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Message From the DirectorAbout This GuideResources
Resource Guide for Serving U.S. Citizens Victimized Abroad
Publication Date:  April 2008
Victim Services: An International Outlook
Responding to Victimization Abroad
Coordinating Victim Services
If the Victim Remains Abroad
If the Victim Returns to the United States
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Checklists for Assisting U.S. Citizens Victimized Abroad

If the Victim Returns to the United States

Criminal Proceedings

In some jurisdictions around the world, victims cannot receive an update on their case without hiring and paying for an attorney. In addition, most local courts abroad will not pay travel expenses for a victim to return to the country to testify. Even if they return to testify, victims or witnesses might discover that, unlike U.S. courts, courts overseas may not offer some of the basic options U.S. victim service providers consider customary, such as separation from the accused.

Consular officers can help acquire information about the legal case and provide details about the country's criminal justice process and any rights of crime victims. They also can facilitate communication with prosecutors and other court officers affiliated with the case.

Through the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, domestic victim service providers can—

  • Obtain details about what will happen at each stage of the criminal proceedings and convey the information to the victim.

  • Identify a local point of contact to keep the victim informed of case information and developments.

  • Identify, in some cases, a local individual to support the victim and family members while they attend criminal proceedings, which can be particularly intimidating to victims who do not speak the language and are unfamiliar with the legal process.