Legal Services in Brazil for the Arrested Tourist
The Olympics are coming to Rio de Janeiro in just a couple of weeks and there is no question that Brazil will be inundated with tourists. Despite the fact that the majority of these foreigners are harmless folks just looking for an exotic vacation with an historical flair, chances are a few will end up getting in trouble. What does a tourist do if arrested in Brazil? What kind of legal services in Brazil are available for a bumbling foreign visitor?
The first thing to do is not panic and understand that Brazil warmly welcomes visitors. However, Brazil does not play around when it comes to criminal activity. Even foreigners are judged according to Brazilian law. If you do the crime, expect Brazil to desire for you to do the time in their own justice system. That being said, it is possible for legal counsel to intervene on a tourist’s behalf.
The most common reason a tourist gets arrested in Brazil is a drug related charge. Drug violations are dealt with vigorously in Brazil. What might be considered petty in other countries warranting only community service could land a tourist a jail term of several years in Brazil. A drug related offense is not just about picking up some cocaine out on the street. If you are carrying around prescription medication without a bona fide prescription for that drug, you could end up in a world of trouble.
If you get arrested you may be detained temporarily or until your trial. If you are released pending your trial, expect the judge to require that you pay bond first. In the event you are considered a risk to the public, such as being suspected of a violent crime, or a flight risk, as is frequently determined in cases involving foreign defendants, you may be held without bail until your trial date.
In Brazil, foreigners have the same legal rights as Brazilians. If you cannot afford legal counsel, a public defender will be provided for you.
The best thing to do before visiting Brazil is to take the time to educate yourself on the local laws. However, in the event that the unthinkable happens and you find yourself arrested in Brazil, remember that you have the right to legal representation.
Foreigners who have been arrested should immediately notify their government’s consulate and follow any recommendations offered. In addition, there are many qualified legal firms with multi-lingual staff members who have the experience to effectively represent you in a Brazilian criminal court. Whether you are a tourist or relocating to Brazil permanently, should any legal crisis occur, many local law firms have the qualifications to provide you with effective counsel.