Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

If you are an American and you have been arrested or detained, please contact your nearest consulate as listed on the right of this page.

 We can help:

  • Provide a list of local attorneys who speak English. For information on lawyers in Canada, please consult the relevant page on Legal Assistance. As Canadian judicial practices are distinct from those in the United States in several important areas, the consulate strongly suggests that detainees obtain the services of an attorney, either private counsel or one provided through the Canadian legal aid system.
  • Contact family, friends, or employers of the detained U.S. citizen with their written permission. In all communications with the Consular Officer, the right to privacy is protected by U.S. law under the Privacy Act. The Embassy or consulate will not release information related to the detained U.S. citizen to anyone — regardless of their relationship to the citizen — unless the detainee specifically authorizes the release by signing a Privacy Act Waiver. Waivers are available from your nearest Consulate upon request.
  • Visit the detained U.S. citizen regularly and provide reading materials and vitamin supplements, where appropriate.
  • Help ensure that prison officials are providing appropriate medical care for you.
  • Provide a general overview of the local criminal justice process.
  • Inform the detainee of local and U.S.-based resources to assist victims of crime that may be available to them.
  • If they would like, ensuring that prison officials are permitting visits with a member of the clergy of the religion of your choice.
  • Establish an OCS Trust so friends and family can transfer funds to imprisoned U.S. citizens, when permissible under prison regulations.

We cannot:

  • Get U.S. citizens out of jail overseas
  • State to a court that anyone is guilty or innocent
  • Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court overseas
  • Serve as official interpreters or translators
  • Pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens overseas