Integrity Legal

7th December 2009

Recently, this author was asked about whether or not Thailand and the USA share an extradition Treaty and, if so, what are the ramifications of an American criminal warrant or conviction for those living in Thailand.

Extradition, “is the official process whereby one nation or state requests and obtains from another nation or state the surrender of a suspected or convicted criminal.”

Thailand and the United States currently have an Extradition Treaty. It is similar to the US-Thai Amity Treaty in that it is bilateral, but the subject matter of the Amity Treaty is very different compared to that of an Extradition Treaty. An Extradition Treaty provides a framework whereby the United States authorities can request that a suspect be handed over to the American authorities. That being said, for more information on specific legal citations please see the relevant Wikipedia page.

As Thailand and the United States share an Extradition Treaty, a person with American Criminal Warrants or American Arrest Warrants could be subjected to United States jurisdiction while in Thailand or while traveling between Thailand and another country. Even if not arrested in Thailand, it is always wise for those with criminal warrants or convictions to deal with the matter so that it can be “put to rest.” It is never wise to run from one’s criminal problems.

For those with a prior criminal conviction or pending criminal warrants the issue of passport re-issuance can be critical. The United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand and the United States Consulate-General in Chiang Mai assist with new passport re-issuance through their American Citizen Services Sections. If one is currently wanted in a US jurisdiction, then the Consular Officers at American Citizen Services are unlikely to issue a new passport or travel document until the American (or foreign national)  in question returns to the United States to deal with the pending matter.

Of further importance to many non-US Citizens with pending American criminal warrants is the effect of criminal proceedings upon one’s ability to acquire United States Immigration benefits (most importantly, a US visa). If one has an arrest or conviction for domestic violence, this fact could have a major impact upon one’s ability to petition for a K1 visa due to the provisions in the Adam Walsh Act and other relevant US law. Further, if one has a criminal conviction in the US, the underlying facts of the case could lead to a later finding of inadmissibility by a Consular Officer adjudicating a later visa application. In some cases, an I601 waiver may be available for those who are found to be inadmissible. Consulting with an attorney experienced in Immigration matters could provide insight regarding the Immigration ramifications of an American criminal conviction.

An American attorney in Thailand (or southeast Asia) could be of assistance to a client by acting as a liaison with American authorities or with other American attorneys. Simply providing legal advice regarding the impact of one’s prior choices could be a boon to some as well. No attorney can assist in evading US law, but a lawyer licensed in the United States could assist by providing legal counsel and advice regarding the ramifications of a client’s previous decisions.


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