What to do when you are arrested for illegal drugs in Thailand?

Thailand is a wonderful place for a holiday but not when you are in its jails. Our law firm was recently contacted by a foreign national in one of Bangkok notorious overcrowded jails. He said that he was a victim of a drug scam and that he had been in the jail for over two months. He had a court appointed attorney but the attorney could not speak English. He was lost and desperate for our help. His situation is not unique as many foreign nationals find themselves in Thai jails for the use of illegal drugs.

If a foreign national is arrested what should they know or do?

  1. The foreign national should locate an experienced local criminal attorney who speaks English or the foreign national’s native language. A criminal attorney cannot represent the client’s interest if they cannot communicate with their clients.
  2. The foreign national should contact their local consulate. The local consulate cannot get them out of jail but they will inform their friends and family so they can locate someone local who can help them get out of jail.
  3. Under Thai law, a suspect has the right to remain silent. It is a good idea for a foreign national to remain silent until they are represented by a local attorney. The foreign national can place themselves in a more difficult position if they talk without a full understanding of the language or Thai law.
  4. Plea bargaining occurs with the local police and not with the government prosecutors. Prosecutors do not have the discretion to reduce criminal penalties in exchange for a guilty plea. The negotiations have to occur with the police on the type of criminal charge. Let your attorney review the evidence before deciding on the best course of action.
  5. After the arrest, the suspect may be eligible for bail. For small cases, the bail can be paid at the police station immediately. If the case is serious such as a charge for distribution of illegal drugs, the bail can be very high or unavailable because of flight risk. In these cases, the defendant will have to wait for their first court appearance.
  6. If the drug offense has a potential penalty of imprisonment exceeding three years, the criminal investigator may ask the suspect to consent to a drug test. It is the suspect’s decision whether to submit to the drug test. However, a refusal to take a drug test can be used as evidence in court.

The best advice is to stay out of trouble. Stay away from illegal narcotics and remain clear of the red light districts of Thailand. However, if you do get into criminal trouble, contact our experienced English speaking Thai attorneys. Keep our phone number with you just in case.

Siam Legal International’s phone number in Thailand is 02-259-8100 or if calling from overseas, +66 2259-8100.


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Category: Criminal Law, Litigation

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Siam Legal is an international law firm with experienced lawyers, attorneys, and solicitors both in Thailand law and international law. This Thailand law firm offers comprehensive legal services in Thailand to both local and foreign clients for Litigation such as civil & criminal cases, labor disputes, commercial cases, divorce, adoption, extradition, fraud, and drug cases. Other legal expertise of the law firm varied in cases involving corporate law such as company registration & Thailand BOI, family law, property law, and private investigation.

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