A few years ago, a story swept through the news like wildfire – Indonesia executed eight people who were accused of drug smuggling (also known as trafficking). It may seem like an unlikely story to make headlines here in the US, but it did. But not for the reasons you think. Of those eight people, only one was actually an Indonesian. The remaining seven people were two Australians, four Nigerians, and a Brazilian.
The death penalty is still practiced in over 50 countries!
Why is this relevant, you ask? Because these people were executed in Indonesia, but they weren’t Indonesian! They weren’t even residents of Indonesia – they were there travelling on tourist visas. Which begs the question: how can the Indonesian government execute seven tourists, regardless of their alleged crimes? The answer: Easily. Because executing people for drug offenses that occur in Indonesia is entirely legal there. Just like it is in Japan, Belarus, Singapore and Egypt, to name but a few.
The point we’re trying to make here is this – it matters where you are accused of a crime! Because the place where you’re convicted of a crime, is the place where you will be sentenced. Just because you’re from Michigan, doesn’t mean that Michigan’s criminal laws and justice system will follow you wherever you go. If you are accused of a crime somewhere else, whether it’s another state or another country, you’ll be subject to the justice system in that location.
Accused of a crime in another country? You’re subject to their laws!
This may seem like less of an issue when you cross state lines and are subject to the laws in other states. But when you travel internationally, it can be a really big deal! If you break the law here in Michigan, you’re subject to Michigan’s penal code. And that pretty much applies for every other state in the US. But if you break the law in say,…Germany, or Thailand, or the Czech Republic, you are no longer afforded the same rights as you would be here. There is a whole different discussion about breaking our federal laws while in the US.
Regardless of how heinous the accusations against you here in the United States, you’ll still be given a fair trial. You’ll get an opportunity to hire a highly skilled attorney and defend yourself in court, and a chance to prove your innocence. Failing that, if you’re incarcerated, prisoners still have rights in the US. You will be fed, kept clear of the elements, and allowed some recreation time. One can’t always say the same thing for people in prisons in other parts of the world.
Your Michigan attorney can’t practice law in another country!
Also, if you’re detained in the foreign country and accused of a crime, you can’t simply hire the attorney of your choice from back home. In fact in some countries, you have no right to an attorney at all. There are rules that govern exactly where an attorney may practice. Even here in the U.S., a Texas attorney could not practice here in Michigan without first taking the Michigan bar, or getting special permission from the court (called admission pro hac vice). Why? Because our state laws are not the same. Which is pretty much the same for attorneys who want to practice law overseas.
With regards to the Indonesian story, apparently the Brazilian government requested a stay of execution because the Brazilian citizen slated for execution was a diagnosed schizophrenic. But to no avail. The executions were still carried out. In response, the Australian government withdrew their ambassador from Indonesia as a protest against what they claimed was a cruel and barbaric practice.
Always be careful when travelling abroad!
But none of that changes anything. Those eight people are still dead. So if we have a moral for this story, it would be this: Be extremely careful and cautious when traveling abroad! Here in Michigan, if you make a mistake, or make a bad choice, our skilled criminal defense attorneys can help you. Overseas, in a foreign country, there is nothing that we, or any other reputable Michigan attorney can do to assist.