Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

This material provides general information about the Taiwan legal system. It is not intended to take the place of legal counsel.

U.S. citizens who violate the laws of Taiwan are subject to local jurisdiction. U.S. citizens should not expect preferential treatment from local authorities. Persons violating the law in a foreign country, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested, or imprisoned. If arrested abroad, a citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, and possibly convicted and sentenced.

All prison sentences must be served in a Taiwan penal facility. There is no provision under Taiwan law for convicted U.S. citizens to serve sentences in the U.S. Neither the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) nor the United States government can obtain the release of U.S. citizens incarcerated in Taiwan.

AIT can visit arrested U.S. citizens, provide a list of attorneys, provide information on the host country’s legal system, contact family or friends, protest mistreatment, and monitor prison conditions.  Family or friends can send money to incarcerated individuals through the State Department.