Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

A consular officer visits an arrested U.S. citizen as soon as possible after being notified by Costa Rican authorities to ascertain the arrestee’s physical well-being and conditions of arrest, provide information on legal procedures, including a list of attorneys, and, if the prisoner wishes, notify family or friends. However, consular officers CANNOT act as attorneys or legal representatives nor affect the release of arrested American citizens.

If you are arrested, insist that the authorities notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. They are obligated to notify a U.S. consular officer of your arrest unless you ask that they not do so. In limited circumstances, consular officers can also serve as liaison between you and your family and provide you with a list of local attorneys. We can also assist the transfer of funds from your family or friends to pay attorneys’ fees and for your upkeep while incarcerated. If you are imprisoned for a lengthy period, a consular officer will visit you periodically, at least once every three to four months.