Where should I hire a lawyer?
While the world is becoming more globalized, the legal profession remains localized. Whenever possible, you should hire a lawyer in the area where the legal issue arose. Rocket Lawyer members have access to Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorneys, and can find and hire local attorneys from anywhere and on any device, at a discounted rate, in the United States.
Hiring a lawyer in another state
Within the U.S., each state and territory licenses its own attorneys. If you live in California, but you have a legal issue in Vermont, a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in Vermont can provide you with legal services. A lawyer who practices in, and is licensed by, the state where the legal trouble occurred will have a much better understanding of the laws, rules, and court procedures of that state, and will have the proper authority to represent you or provide you with state-specific legal advice.
Hiring a lawyer in another country
Finding a lawyer in another country can be much more difficult than finding one in another state. Even in countries without a language barrier, such as Canada or the United Kingdom, the legal system can significantly differ from what we are used to in the U.S.
The State Department can connect you with an English-speaking lawyer in another country. Consular officials can offer general advice on the country’s criminal justice system. If you have been detained or jailed, the consulate can monitor your treatment and keep your family, friends, and employer informed of your situation.
Will I need to return to the vacation destination to deal with the legal problem?
If you are charged with a crime in the U.S., you might be required to stay in the county or state where you were charged in order to qualify for release from custody. The same may happen in other countries. Leaving the jurisdiction of the court, even if it is just to go home, might require permission from a judge or another official.
If you can return home, you may be required to go back to your vacation destination for court hearings or other proceedings. A local attorney may make some court appearances on your behalf, but a judge may want to see you in person at some point. Some courts might allow you to attend hearings virtually, but there is no guarantee.
Even if it’s just a small traffic ticket, the consequences for failing to appear for legal proceedings in another state could include a warrant for your arrest that can be enforced across state lines. If your case is in another country, the consequences will depend on the relationship between that country and the U.S. If you do not deal with the issue, you may never be able to visit that country again.
What if I am unreachable and there is a legal problem at home?
You can plan ahead for legal problems that might come up while you are away. A Power of Attorney can temporarily give someone else authority to act on your behalf.
You can limit the scope of the Power of Attorney to certain matters, such as business problems or a pending court case. You can also limit its duration to the time you are out of town. Without a Power of Attorney, you will have to deal with the legal problems, and potential fallout from being unavailable, once you return home or can communicate with someone at home.
How do I handle traffic tickets or an arrest on vacation?
You have the same constitutional rights anywhere within the U.S., including the right to speak to an attorney. For traffic tickets, read the front and back of the ticket. You may be able to simply pay the fine online or through the mail. If you plan to contest the ticket, a local attorney may be able to help you fight it without you having to show up anywhere. Just don’t delay as fines and penalties can increase dramatically if you fail to pay or show up to the local court by the date posted on the ticket.
If you were arrested and released from jail on bond in another state, a local lawyer can help you request permission to return home while your case is pending.
If you are in another country, you should ask to speak to the nearest U.S. consulate. The United States is a party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, along with 180 other countries and territories. It states that foreign nationals who have been arrested have the right to seek assistance from their country’s consulate.
This article is tailored to help citizens and nationals of the United States. The U.S. State Department offers a range of information and services should you encounter legal trouble in another country. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, for example, can connect you with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, and help friends and family get in contact with you.
If you run into legal troubles while traveling, you do not have to go through it alone. Download the Rocket Lawyer Mobile App or contact a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney today to discuss your case and learn more about your rights.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.