Travelling abroad on holiday should be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. For some people, it results in disaster and they find themselves in police custody. Giambrone & Partners' criminal defence lawyers fully understand how confusing and upsetting this can be. Especially as, generally, most people are unaware of the varying laws in foreign countries and how dissimilar they can be from those in the United Kingdom. Similarly, few people know their rights in a foreign country or whether there are time limits for action or what are the potential sentences that can be handed out.
Laws and legal procedures vary, often quite considerably, from country to country. Simply because your home country permits certain activities
or the police will deal with misbehaviour with a warning, it should not be assumed that what you can do in your home country is permitted everywhere. In Italy, for example, there are different types of police force each wearing different uniforms. The Carabinieri are a special branch of the army mainly dealing with serious crime and criminal organisations. The State police, Polizia di Stato, deal with such things as security on the
roads and airports, amongst other things. The Local police, Vigili Urbani deal with local traffic control and some minor crime and also there is the Guardia di Finanza which is responsible for national and international financial crime including fraud, counterfeiting, tax evasion and
There are laws to prevent damage to heritage sites, for example,
you may not sit on the Spanish Steps in Rome, you may not paddle in
Fontana di Trevi, or Trevi Fountain or bathe in the canals of Venice, whereas the fountains in Trafalgar Square, London are regularly jumped
Vincenzo Senatore, a partner and highly acclaimed criminal defence lawyer commented "when visiting a foreign country many young people simply think the laws in that country are the same or very similar to their home country, not realising that some actions and behaviour in their home country that would attract little more than a reprimand from a police officer can be subject to a compulsory prison sentence in Italy" he continued "for example, an assault of a sexual nature will attract a mandatory custodial sentence of six up to 12 years, regardless of the fact that the act was minor matter rather than a serious assault, the sentence is often reduced or suspended if the act is deemed to be minor. Often what the perpetrator considers is little more than a prank results in a prison sentence abroad, loss of their job and criminal record."
In a recent news story across the world's press, a British tourist was observed carving his and his fiancee's names on the wall of the Colosseum, one of the most significant historical buildings in Rome. The tourist appeared to be amused by the reaction of passers-by and clearly had no concerns about the consequences of his actions. He is now being sought by Italy's Carabinieri police and faces a potential fine of up to €15,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years if convicted. This is not an idle threat in 2014, a Russian tourist was fined €20,000 (£17,000) for engraving a "K" on a wall and given a suspended four-year jail sentence. Also, two American tourists were also cited for aggravated damage after they carved their names in the monument.
If you fall foul of the law in Italy the first thing you must do
is appoint a criminal defence lawyer that speaks good English. You
have the right to be represented by a lawyer that speaks your first
language but not all duty lawyers have good enough English.
Giambrone's highly regarded criminal defence lawyers stress the critical importance of obtaining effective and efficient legal assistance abroad for those who find themselves involved in international criminal proceedings. Early intervention by an expert criminal defence lawyer could make the difference between being detained or being able to return home.
Vincenzo Senatore is a dually qualified Italian Avvocato (with Higher Rights of Audience) and English Solicitor and also qualified to plead before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Vincenzo is a robust criminal defence lawyer with an acclaimed track record of success. He has several years of 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 diverse clientele.
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.