Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

Can criminal charges be filed against me from another country when the alleged allegations occurred here in the U.S.?

Asked on 1/25/19, 9:53 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

If a crime is committed in this jurisdiction, then any victim, anywhere can contact the police here and try to 'file charges', if they will take the report, and then if the DA will prosecute them an arrest warrant could be issued. If that happens to you, feel free to contact me for criminal defense.

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Answered on 1/26/19, 2:00 pm

Is your question, can a government outside the U.S. file charges against you when the crime was committed in the U.S.? If that's the question, then, yes. However, it depends on the crime and who or what the target or victim of the crime..

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Answered on 1/26/19, 4:39 pm
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

That depends on the laws of the other country and on what allegedly happened. Actions taken in the U.S. can harm people overseas, and can be crimes under American law and/or the laws of the other country. That's particularly easy to do via the internet, since national boundaries don't make as much difference online as they do in the real world. A system which protected criminals just because their victims are in other countries would be unjust. So if you committed crimes against foreigners in the belief that their country's laws couldn't reach you, you may soon find out the hard way that you were badly mistaken.

The U.S. generally doesn't resist other countries' efforts to prosecute such cases against Americans. Most other countries don't resist American efforts to prosecute their own citizens, either, though there are many exceptions to these general rules. In many instances, U.S. authorities will arrest the suspect based on the foreign charges and will extradite him or her to face those charges where they were filed.

The fact that Americans can be prosecuted overseas for actions they took here does not mean that it can be done in this particular case. Even if it can be, that doesn't mean you're guilty or that you'll be convicted. But the time to start defending yourself is before you're extradited, not after -- especially if the other country's legal system is less fair than ours.

But even if you can avoid being extradited, that doesn't mean you're safe. Local authorities might never have learned of your actions on their own, but they will if the other country's prosecutors contact them. So if your actions also violated U.S. criminal laws, you can be charged for them by American prosecutors and tried in an American court.

If you've been charged overseas, you have a very serious problem to deal with. Start looking for local defense counsel right away.

Good luck.

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Answered on 1/26/19, 8:16 pm

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