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Arrest, Illustration, Trial & Detention

Foreigners in Thailand are topic to the identical legal guidelines and authorized procedures as Thai residents.

Nonetheless, the method of arrest, trial, and conviction for foreigners could differ barely from that of Thai residents.

One factor that definitely differs is incarceration itself. Thai jails are very completely different to these you can see within the UK, US, Australia, or a lot of Europe.

On this article, I will provide the lowdown on the necessary fundamentals a international nationwide ought to know in regards to the Thai justice and jail system.

Please notice: I’m not a lawyer, or certified in any authorized self-discipline. A such, this text shouldn’t be supposed to be recommendation. For those who require any authorized recommendation, you must seek the advice of a Thai lawyer.

department of corrections

Getting Arrested

If a foreigner is suspected of committing against the law in Thailand, Thai authorities could arrest them. The police or different legislation enforcement businesses, comparable to immigration, could make the arrest and the foreigner will probably be taken into custody.

Beneath Thai legislation, the police could detain an individual for as much as 48 hours and not using a court docket order, so long as there’s a cheap suspicion that the particular person has dedicated against the law. This era will be prolonged for as much as seven days with the approval of a court docket order, if there may be adequate proof to help the continued detention.

Throughout the preliminary 48-hour interval, the police are required to tell the detainee of the explanation for his or her arrest, the fees towards them, and their rights below Thai legislation, together with the proper to authorized illustration and the proper to stay silent. The detainee also needs to be given entry to medical remedy if wanted.

If the police intend to carry the particular person for longer than 48 hours, they have to receive a court docket order to take action. The court docket order should specify the explanations for the prolonged detention and should require the police to offer proof to help the continued detention.

As soon as charged,  the detainee is transferred to a jail and should attend court docket each 12 days for remand hearings. The prosecution has 84 days from the preliminary arrest to current their case to the Public Prosecutor. Nonetheless, for minor offenses, they’ve a most of 48 days to arrange their case.

As soon as an individual is in detention, they’ve the proper to authorized illustration and entry to medical care. Additionally they have the proper to speak with members of the family and consular officers, if they’re a international nationwide.

Your lawyer will inform you should you’re eligible for bail after being arrested. You may pay bail on the police station or in court docket after your first look. If the detainee cannot afford it, family members or pals can prepare cost. If bail is granted, the court docket will retain the detainee’s passport. Journey inside Thailand is allowed.

One should adhere strictly to the bail situations set by the police or court docket, comparable to reporting to the police or staying in a selected residence. Failure to conform can result in a brand new arrest warrant and forfeiture of bail cash. Making an attempt to go away Thailand may additionally end in re-arrest or forfeiture of bail.


International nationals have the proper to an legal professional each pre and through trial in Thailand. The Thai Structure ensures the proper to authorized counsel for all people, no matter their nationality.

For prices with a most penalty of lower than 5 years, the court docket could appoint a lawyer, at its discretion. Nonetheless, court-appointed legal professionals are sometimes inexperienced and converse little English. In follow, nonetheless, the supply of authorized illustration could range relying on the circumstances of the case and the assets of the accused.

Relying on the situation of arrest and availability of an legal professional, some international nationals could have issue discovering an legal professional who speaks English.

Moreover, the price of authorized illustration in Thailand could also be past the monetary technique of the person concerned.

State Help

The Thai authorized system doesn’t present foreigners with state help for authorized illustration. Not like another nations, comparable to america or the UK, there isn’t any public defender system in Thailand to offer free authorized help to those that can not afford to rent a lawyer.

Although as talked about above, in some circumstances the court docket could appoint a lawyer at its discretion.

International nationals who’re going through legal prices in Thailand are accountable for their very own authorized charges and should rent their very own legal professional or use the companies of a authorized help group, if accessible. Some embassies or consulates could possibly present an inventory of native attorneys or authorized help organizations that may present help to international nationals.

It will be important for international nationals to remember that authorized charges in Thailand will be excessive, and that the price of hiring an legal professional will rely upon the complexity of the case and the expertise of the lawyer.

It’s advisable for international nationals going through legal prices in Thailand to hunt the help of a professional legal professional who’s aware of the native legal guidelines and customs, and to make sure that they absolutely perceive the prices concerned earlier than continuing with authorized illustration.

On Trial

Foreigners in Thailand have the proper to a good trial, and the authorized course of is carried out in Thai language. If the foreigner doesn’t converse Thai, they’ve the proper to an interpreter.

If a foreigner is charged with against the law, they may seem in court docket and may have the chance to defend themselves, with or and not using a lawyer.

After the formal charging court docket listening to, a “assembly of events” will probably be organized by the court docket for each the protection and prosecution to agree on trial dates.

If an individual pleads responsible to a cost that carries a minimal sentence of 5 years in jail, the court docket should hear witness proof. Nonetheless, if an individual pleads not responsible or would not enter a plea, the court docket should additionally hear witness proof. Trial dates can usually be set fairly far into the long run, with dates as much as two years away being frequent.

The trial will comply with the identical procedures because it does for Thai residents, together with the presentation of proof and witnesses, cross-examination of witnesses, and shutting arguments.

80% of Thailand’s prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related offences; 78% of drug-related offenders had been convicted for offences associated to yaba (methamphetamine tablets); and 76% of those drug-related offenders had been convicted for possession with intent to promote.


If a foreigner is discovered responsible of against the law in Thailand, they are going to be sentenced in line with Thai legislation.

The sentence could embody fines, imprisonment, or deportation. In some circumstances, a foreigner could also be deported after serving their sentence, and could also be banned from coming into Thailand once more.

You will need to notice that it’s attainable for a foreigner to be held in pre-trial detention for a major time frame earlier than trial.

Drug offenses are the most typical convictions in Thailand amongst international nationals,.

The sentence for being caught with medicine in Thailand can range relying on a spread of things, together with the kind and amount of the drug concerned, the circumstances of the arrest, and the person’s legal historical past.

On the whole, nonetheless, Thailand has a few of the harshest drug legal guidelines on the earth, and people convicted of drug offenses can face extreme penalties, together with prolonged jail sentences and even the loss of life penalty.

For instance, below Thai legislation, possession of even small quantities of sure medicine, together with methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, can lead to a jail sentence of as much as 5 years and/or a superb of as much as 100,000 baht (roughly $3,000 USD).

Possession of bigger portions of methamphetamine, for instance, whereby the accused is taken into account a seller, can lead to a jail sentence of 15 years, or 20 years if caught promoting to a minor.

For extra critical drug offenses, together with drug trafficking and manufacturing, the penalties are much more extreme. These convicted of those offenses can face life imprisonment or the loss of life penalty, relying on the precise circumstances of the case.

It’s subsequently necessary to keep away from any involvement in medicine whereas in Thailand, and to pay attention to the dangers and potential penalties of drug-related offenses.

Serving Time

The size of a sentence {that a} foreigner has to serve in a Thai jail relies on the character and severity of the crime dedicated. Thai legal legislation applies equally to foreigners and Thai residents, and the identical penalties and sentences will be imposed on each.

For instance, a foreigner who’s convicted of a minor offense, comparable to a site visitors violation or petty theft, could also be sentenced to a brief time period of imprisonment or a superb. Nonetheless, for extra critical offenses, comparable to drug trafficking or violent crimes, the sentence will be for much longer.

On the whole, a foreigner who’s convicted of against the law in Thailand and sentenced to imprisonment could also be required to serve all the sentence in a Thai jail. This consists of each pre-trial detention and post-conviction imprisonment. Nonetheless, in some circumstances, a foreigner could also be deported after serving their sentence, and could also be banned from coming into Thailand once more.

On the whole, Thai legislation permits for a discount in sentence for good habits, participation in work applications, and different elements. The period of time that may be lowered varies relying on the size of the sentence, however the discount will be as much as one-third of the sentence for individuals who present exemplary conduct.

For instance, if somebody is sentenced to 10 years in jail, they could possibly be eligible for a discount of as much as 3 years in the event that they display good habits and take part in work applications. Nonetheless, you will need to notice that eligibility for early launch is on the discretion of the jail authorities and isn’t assured.

Moreover, below Thai legislation, prisoners who’ve served two-thirds of their sentence could also be eligible for launch on parole, which permits them to serve the rest of their sentence outdoors of jail below sure situations.

Early Launch and Worldwide Switch

Within the Thai jail system, good habits can result in a discount in sentence. Prisoners are initially positioned within the ‘average class’ and may transfer up or down the six-tier system, together with wonderful, excellent, good, average, dangerous, and really dangerous, based mostly on their habits. Sustaining the next class stage can lead to a lowered sentence, which is usually calculated throughout a Royal Amnesty (see the subsequent part).

International prisoners in Thailand who want to serve the rest of their sentence of their house nation could also be eligible for early launch via a prisoner switch program. This program is ruled by the Worldwide Switch of Offenders Act.

To be thought-about for switch, the prisoner should meet sure standards, together with having a legitimate motive for the switch, comparable to household or medical causes, and having at the very least six months of their sentence remaining. The prisoner should additionally consent to the switch and supply details about their house nation and the situations of their confinement there.

As soon as a prisoner has been permitted for switch, the Thai authorities will notify the receiving nation and coordinate the switch. The receiving nation should additionally approve the switch and conform to supervise the rest of the prisoner’s sentence.

You will need to notice that the choice to approve a switch is on the discretion of each the sending and receiving nations, and that not all requests for switch will probably be granted. Moreover, prisoners who’re serving sentences for sure kinds of crimes, comparable to political offenses or crimes towards the state, might not be eligible for switch.

International prisoners in Thailand who want to discover the potential of early launch via the prisoner switch program ought to seek the advice of with their embassy or a professional legal professional who’s aware of the method.

These deported from Thailand after serving a sentence usually face a ban on returning for a interval starting from 1 to 10 years or extra, relying on the case. Nonetheless, the precise size of the restriction varies and might not be disclosed by the deporting police officer

Getting a Royal Pardon

A Royal Pardon in Thailand is a type of clemency granted by the King, which may end up in the early launch of a prisoner or the discount of their sentence. To be thought-about for a Royal Pardon, a prisoner should meet sure eligibility necessities and comply with a selected utility course of.

Eligibility for a Royal Pardon in Thailand relies on a spread of things, together with the character of the crime, the size of the sentence, and the prisoner’s habits and conduct throughout their time in jail. On the whole, those that have been convicted of significant crimes, together with drug offenses and violent crimes, might not be eligible for a royal pardon.

To use for a Royal Pardon, a prisoner should submit a written request to the Workplace of His Majesty’s Principal Non-public Secretary. The request should embody details about the prisoner’s private historical past, the character of their offense, and any mitigating elements that will help their case for clemency. The request should even be accompanied by a suggestion from the jail authorities.

As soon as the request has been acquired, will probably be reviewed by a committee of advisors to the king, who will make a suggestion to the King based mostly on the prisoner’s eligibility and different elements. The King has the ultimate authority to grant or deny a Royal Pardon.

You will need to notice that the method for acquiring a Royal Pardon in Thailand will be advanced and time-consuming, and the end result shouldn’t be assured. It is strongly recommended that prisoners in search of clemency work with a professional authorized skilled who can information them via the applying course of and supply recommendation and illustration all through the method.


The variety of folks per cell in a Thai jail can range relying on the dimensions and capability of the jail, in addition to the precise rules and insurance policies of the Division of Corrections. Nonetheless, overcrowding is a standard drawback in lots of Thai prisons, and cells could also be packed past their supposed capability.

Thailand presently has one of many highest prisoner-to-population ratios on the earth (524 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018), and the world’s highest share of feminine prisoners (14%).

It additionally suffers from one of many highest charges of overcrowding, with over three prisoners for each accessible jail house. Upward of 40 prisoners could also be housed in a single cell, with lower than 1.2 sq. meters for every male inmate and 1.1 sq. meters for every feminine inmate (supply).

The scenario might also be completely different for various kinds of cells or prisoners. For instance, cells for pre-trial detainees or these serving quick sentences could also be much less crowded than cells for long-term or high-security prisoners.

Requirements of healthcare in Thai prisons are poor compared to the Western world. Poor sanitation, insufficient air flow, excessive temperatures, decrease grade meals and other people sleeping in shut proximity to one another – usually shoulder to shoulder – can enable the unfold of infections. Colds and abdomen bugs are frequent, and lately there have been reported outbreaks of tuberculosis (TB) (supply).

Working in Jail

Prisoners in Thailand are allowed to work contained in the jail, topic to sure situations and restrictions. There may be additionally a widely known drain/sewer cleansing program that allows prisoners of fine habits to sometimes clear drains within the outdoors group, below supervision.

The work that’s accessible to prisoners could range relying on the precise jail and the assets accessible.

On the whole, work assignments in Thai prisons are geared toward offering prisoners with vocational coaching and abilities growth, in addition to a way of incomes a small amount of cash that can be utilized to buy further meals or different fundamental requirements.

Some examples of labor assignments in Thai prisons could embody duties comparable to cooking, cleansing, laundry, or upkeep work.

Prisoners who want to work in Thai prisons should meet sure eligibility standards and should apply for permission from the jail authorities. In some circumstances, prisoners could also be required to bear a medical examination or a background verify earlier than they’re allowed to work.

You will need to notice that the supply of labor assignments in Thai prisons could also be restricted, and that prisoners who’re unable to seek out work could have restricted alternatives to earn cash or occupy their time. Tales relating to work range from jail to jail, with some prisoners reporting that alternatives are few if any and others reporting alternatives however unreasonably low pay.

It should be famous that the wages earned by prisoners for his or her work are sometimes very low and are unlikely to offer a major supply of revenue. Some argue that that is justified, and that even incomes a small quantity is a privilege.

Meals (Weight-reduction plan)

The meals ration for all international prisoners in Thailand often consists of 1 bag of cooked rice weighing 800 grams and one Thai facet dish twice per day.

Any further meals should be paid for. There’s a store inside all prisons, however the store costs are at all times significantly larger than for a similar objects outdoors of the jail. Due to this fact, it’s important that international prisoners have household and pals ship cash to them to make sure a weight-reduction plan that meets their dietary wants.

Every prisoner has a jail account, the place cash for meals will be despatched.  This cash will be deposited by Consular workers into the jail account or despatched through postal order. Some prisons have a restrict of how a lot cash you’ll be able to have in your account at anybody time.

Dangers Throughout Incarceration

International nationals who discover themselves in a Thai jail ought to pay attention to a number of potential dangers and challenges that they could face. Listed below are a number of concerns.

  1. Language barrier: Communication could be a problem for foreigners who don’t converse Thai, as many jail workers members could not converse English or different languages fluently. This will make it troublesome for international nationals to know the foundations and rules of the jail, in addition to to speak their wants or issues successfully.
  2. Prejudice: The language barrier and distinction in nationality could deliver with it prejudice and hostile remedy from different prisoners, notably if the international nationwide has members of the family and pals sending in cash to make sure the international nationwide should buy further meals and toiletries.
  3. Cultural variations: International nationals could encounter cultural variations in Thai prisons that may be troublesome to navigate. For instance, jail workers members could have completely different attitudes towards private house, privateness, and private hygiene than what foreigners are accustomed to of their house nations.
  4. Well being dangers: Thai prisons could have restricted entry to medical care, and prisoners could also be susceptible to contracting diseases or infections as a consequence of overcrowding and poor sanitation. Hepatitis is a specific danger. Moreover, international nationals might also be susceptible to experiencing adversarial reactions to native meals or water.
  5. Gang exercise: Some Thai prisons could also be house to organized gangs or teams, and international nationals could also be focused by these teams as a consequence of their perceived vulnerability or lack of familiarity with native customs and guidelines. It’s reported {that a} prisoner will pay for extra safety from a gang, however this common stipend might not be reasonably priced for everybody.
  6. Corruption: Bribery and corruption could be a drawback in some Thai prisons, and international nationals could also be susceptible to being extorted or mistreated by jail workers or different inmates who demand cost for companies or items. On this regard, paying for cover, or incomes favour with guards, is commonly needed for these doing a protracted sentence.

Please notice: If you understand somebody who has been arrested or sentenced to jail time in Thailand, you’ll be able to contact your embassy to seek out out extra particulars, and to rearrange a digital or in-person go to together with your buddy or member of the family.


Know somebody in jail in Thailand? Been there your self? Share your questions or experiences beneath.

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