Law Enforcement and Legal Assistance
Victims might have concerns about the investigation of the crime and their role in the country's unfamiliar criminal justice system. Victims want to know what comes next after the crime and their expectations might be based on the U.S. judicial system and mechanisms in place for victim assistance.
Victim service providers should understand and communicate the following:
- Cultural variables can influence police perspectives on victimization or victims’ rights and needs.
- Consular officers can offer guidance on how a victim should report the crime to the local police.
- Criminal justice systems in many countries have paper-based recordkeeping or limited technology for fulfilling requests for information promptly.
- In some countries, victims cannot gain access to their case information unless they hire an attorney, at their own expense, to act on their behalf within the criminal justice system.
The Office of Overseas Citizens Services, through its representatives in embassies and consulates overseas, can explain standard practices in individual countries for the following:
- Law enforcement procedures.
- Filing reports.
- Obtaining copies of police reports.
- Conducting interviews.
- Performing medical forensic examinations.
- Investigating the crime.
- Arresting a suspect.
- Prosecuting the perpetrator.
The Office of Overseas Citizens Services also offers information on international judicial assistance and, through embassy and consulate Web sites, maintains a list of American attorneys licensed to practice in foreign countries or who work as foreign legal consultants.
U.S. Department of State
Obtaining Evidence Abroad