Many people are looking forward to a relaxing break on holiday in Europe, hoping to let off steam after the long months putting up with the pandemic, politics plus the impending financial downturn. Nobody sets off on holiday expecting to be arrested but it becomes a stark reality for some people. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirms that hundreds of British citizens are arrested across Europe each year whilst they are on holiday.
Experiencing arrest is an unnerving and intimidating prospect in your home country, being arrested abroad is far more disturbing. Often individuals are caught up in situations and are unsure why they have been arrested and often face a language barrier, isolation, often with little or no knowledge of their rights.
Your first thought may be to contact the British Embassy for help through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but strictly speaking, there is no entitlement to consular assistance when you have been arrested abroad, all such assistance is discretionary. The Foreign Office points out that it has no power to establish a British national's safety or security when arrested abroad as that is the responsibility of the authorities of the country concerned.
Regardless of the reason for your arrest, whether it was your own fault or not, the most important step to take is to contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer who speaks your language. In most European countries the authorities have an obligation to provide legal representation with the ability to speak the language of the arrested person. However, the level of the duty lawyer's English may not be especially good.
Vincenzo Senatore, a partner, commented "There are wide variations in European countries as to how seriously certain offences are regarded. Just because your conduct in the UK would result in a warning from the police rather than arrest, this does not mean that the same conduct in a European country will be treated in the same way" Vincenzo pointed out "in some countries certain offences, regardless of how minimal they are, attract mandatory prison sentences. if you are arrested abroad it is essential, as a matter of urgency, to obtain first-rate legal advice from English-speaking lawyers before answering any questions or signing any documents."
Giambrone & Partners' highly experienced criminal defence lawyers point out that after arrest you may be allowed to return to the UK and it can be some considerable time before you are recalled to the country in which the offence occurred to account for the incident. On no account should a request to return to the country where you were arrested be ignored, our criminal defence lawyers can advise in how to manage the prospect of surrender to an EU Member State.
Drunkenness and drug use account for a large number of the arrests in European countries together with violent assault. Spain has taken steps to limit the consumption of alcohol in certain tourist resorts in an attempt to prevent anti-social behaviour arising from drunkenness. Breaching the new laws will result in fines of up to €30,000.
Giambrone & Partners' criminal defence lawyers have a well-deserved track record in assisting British citizens under arrest in European countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal. Our lawyers have assisted in several matters where their defence arguments have resulted in the avoidance of custodial sentences.
Vincenzo Senatore is a partner based alternately in both the London and Naples office.He is dually qualified Italian avvocato (with Higher Rights of Audience) and English & Wales solicitor and also qualified to practice before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Vincenzo has several years of post-qualification experience in Civil and Common law. Vincenzo has broad experience of UK and international cross-border transactions across a variety of industry sectors as well as international corporate and criminal law. Vincenzo is a formidable litigator with a demonstrable history of bringing successful transactions to successful conclusions, providing legal support to partners and delivering strategic advice to a diverse clientele.
Vincenzo is well-regarded for his astute analysis of complex situations and his agile ability to navigate the intricacies involved in cross-border matters. Vincenzo is focused and rigorous in his pursuit of a successful outcome for our clients.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.