A summary of likely events
where a foreigner would end up at the police station
|Traffic and Highway police
normally issue on the spot fines for misbehaviour such
as speeding, not wearing a seatbelt or leaving your crash helmet
at home. Payment of the fine usually concludes the matter.
Unless you cannot pay the fine
or won't then you pay at the police station and the fine is
The Reason Why
|The most usual reasons why farang's are formally
arrested by the police are VISA OVERSTAY
and NON PAYMENT of a hotel
bill. Offenders will be produced in court in less than three
days and the standard sentence for overstay is one month in
detention or immediate payment of a fine of 2,000 or 3,000 Baht.
The fine actually reduces by 70 Baht for each day of incarceration.
NON PAYERS of a hotel bill
will usually be offered the opportunity to pay back the hotel
, or be imprisoned for one or two months depending on the outstanding
Whether the farang can pay or not, the result will
be deportation from the kingdom, as the visitor has seriously
broken Thai law by misusing his or her status as a guest.
If the offender does not have a valid return ticket, they will
have to hang around in the police station cells until a friend
or relative sends cash.
|Working without a Labour
Office permit is another common offence. Some farang's
are reported to the authorities by a Thai national who feels
aggrieved in some way. Others come to light as a result of careless
advertising of services such as computer repairs or painting
and decorating. Still others by police spot checks on entertainment
places or business premises.
In the normal course of events,
a brief spell of imprisonment will be followed by a substantial
court fine and deportation.
If the farang is in partnership
with a Thai, or works closely with him or her, it may be possible
to ameliorate these consequences.
Farang's do not need a
work permit to invest in a business nor to be a silent partner.
But if you do anything more than sit back and watch your money
grow, or disappear, you are in breach of the 1979 alien labour
In recent years, work permits have become easier
to obtain as the number of exempt categories have risen.
The basic issue is the amount of capital invested and the number
of foreign workers employed. Our in-house lawyers will be delighted
to reveal all.
|Cases involving alleged drugs misuse,
malicious wounding, financial fraud, illegal use of passports
etc., will be treated much more seriously. As will charges
of child sex and molestation.
Most serious of all are the capital crimes of
drugs trafficking and murder, which can carry the death
penalty, although no foreigner has been executed since the mid
In all these categories, the foreigner will initially
be charged and then be detained three months in prison to allow
the prosecution to prepare its case.
However, it is possible
at any stage of the proceedings
to apply for bail. If refused by the first court, recourse may
be had at the appeal court in Bangkok. Thai courts, by and large,
do not set a bail amount. It is up to your lawyer to request
bail by suggesting a cash sum and to have this amount on hand
in order to pay the said amount to the court office. The cost
of bail has risen sharply in recent years, it is rarely under
400,000 Baht. Bail is by no means automatically given and the
police can object .
There are rumours of guys who have offered
several million Baht but failed to get out of jail. The purpose
of bail is to allow the alleged offender to gather evidence
for his or her case from the outside.
Skipping the country
is increasingly difficult owing to the computerization of airports
and border crossings and, of course, you would forfeit your
Assuming a trail is held, it must begin in just under
three months following a number of technical appearances. Some
cases may be settled at the first formal hearing of evidence.
Others can take years.
A plea of guilty will result in a
substantial slashing of the sentence.
It is only at the very
end of the trail that the prisoner will be allowed to speak
or make a statement in his own defence.
|Of course it does. There is no free legal aid,
except in the most serious of cases which potentially carry
huge prison sentences or death. Even here, a court appointed
lawyer may be a junior and not be able to communicate with you
in your own language.
Detained farang's without their own
hired lawyer will not be able to understand the proceedings
and won't have a clue about huge piles of documents all written
The only recourse is to hire a lawyer experienced
in handling farang cases. He or she will typically quote you
a global cash amount eventually to get you home, although this
can escalate according to how matters proceed.
Much has been
written about corruption in the Thai legal system. You most
likely won't personally see evidence of any action. Any negotiations
are undertaken by your Thai lawyer who represents the inscrutable
Orient on your behalf.
If you don't fancy the system, then
do not get into trouble in the first place.
AT THE AIRPORT Sooner or later,
ex prisoners end up at the Bangkok airport for deportation,
assuming they have a valid ticket. Some airlines will not accept
people with a" Deport" stamp,
so it is best to stick with your national carrier or Thai. Most
deportees will not be denied entry back into Thailand, just
because of such a stamp. However, people deemed to be
persona non grata, or those who
have caused sufficient offence to the Thai authorities by the
nature of their offence may be refused entry if they try to
come back. Visas can be revoked arbitrarily. As all over the