Getting arrested for minimal and maximum crimes is a consequence of your actions. Whether that be anywhere in the world, there is punishment for committing an offense according to the laws attributed in that country.
Just the same, Thailand has particularly enlisted laws under certain forms of misconduct that can have you paying fines or even arrested. Be vary that as a foreigner in the country, it may be more difficult for you to deal with these terms, which is why it is always best to know how to stay out of trouble.
You can get arrested for several acts, including gambling, illegal posting, defamation, drugs, and disrespectful actions toward the Thai religion. While detention depends on the cause, you can risk being repatriated and put on a blacklist. Thailand also has some of the worst prisons in the world.
This article will help you learn more about how to avoid being arrested and dealing with the aftermath of being behind bars. Hearing about Thailand’s poor maintenance of the prison system might also convince you to stay out of trouble.
What Happens If You Get Arrested in Thailand?
What Can Get You Arrested in Thailand?
Although playing it safe in your daily life might seem like the easiest way to avoid jail, each country prescribes its group of weird laws. Some things that are illegal in one country might not be in another. You have to know these factors if you want to play it safe somewhere you are a foreigner.
One of the first few things people need to learn about Thailand is that you need a drone permit, just as much as you would need one to own a gun. Security is the Thai government’s top concern, so registering your device is extremely important. If you do not do so, you might have to pay 3000 Baht (100 USD) or go to jail for five years. (Source)
Guns must also be registered, and there are limits to how many can be sold or owned. Assault weapons are banned entirely, so each person has to go through a background check to ensure they will use the gun for self-defense or hunting.
Another thing that can get you arrested is gambling. Very much illegal, the Thai government banned it through the Gambling Act IN 1935. Locals are prohibited from owning more than 120 playing cards.
Moreover, social media is another tricky factor in the country. Posting with alcohol and cigarettes is a criminal offense and can cause jail time or fines. Although no strict measures have been taken against people who do so, it is safe to post on private accounts or stay out of the public eye. If you are caught posting, you can face up to one year in prison or pay as high as 500,000 Baht (15,000 USD). (Source)
In the same mindset, you should remember that drinking on religious and cultural holidays such as the King’s birthday is illegal. It isn’t very respectful to be caught saying anything against the royal family.
There have also been reports of jail time with increasingly serious motorbike accidents. It is essential to avoid opening your car due to negligence if you are on the street. If you were to hit a bike, you would be responsible for the damages to the vehicle, the bike, and any medical bills for injuries.
The country is also strict regarding defamation and fraud with Thai companies. The Cybercrime Investigation Bureau deals with online crime and can cost you detrimental consequences. The Thai government recently sued an American for leaving false information and negative hotel reviews online. He could have faced two years in prison if he had not paid fines where due.
Just like in any other country, drugs are the main problem. Even with the legalization of weed, illicit drugs like cocaine are still illegal. Charges might be more strict for locals; however, being caught with drugs as a foreigner can cost you your visa; you will be deported and put on the blacklist.
It would help to respect the country’s political and cultural values. As Thailand is home to 90% of Buddhists, the imagery and respect of the Buddha are essential. You must not be doing disrespectful things at religious sites. A couple was recently flagged at the airport and fined for taking butt selfies at the temple. (Source)
What to Do if You Are Arrested in Thailand?
If you ever get into trouble in Thailand, you should locate your consulate or embassy directly. Although the institutions are not an easy ticket out, they will be able to inform your family and friends.
Moreover, you can locate a criminal attorney who speaks English and Thai to help smooth the process. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint you an attorney when the criminal charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years or more. If less, it is up to the court if they should provide you with one. (Source)
Is There Bail in Thailand?
After you are arrested, you can be eligible for bail under particular cases. For big cases, you can be held for 12 days in holding. Once the bail is paid, they will hold onto your passport until the next court date, which would be 6 to 8 weeks.
Granting bail to people depends on the issue and facilitation. Many prisoners are imprisoned for long periods before they have a trial. (Source)
How Long Is a Life Sentence in Thailand?
If you were to commit murder or get imprisoned in Thailand, that would mean for the rest of your lifetime.
In the United States, future parole is deemed possible if the prisoner is no longer dangerous to society. Although the death penalty is allowed, the country fails to put it to use. The last execution happened in June 2018, when Mr. Theerasak Longi was killed through lethal injection. The prisoner received the death sentence for murdering a 17-year-old boy by stabbing him 24 times. However, no capital punishment was carried out in Thailand before that, as of 2009. (Source)
As of 2022, capital punishment is allowed for 60 offenses but restricts itself from pregnant women or kids under 18. Life imprisonment is usually declared for possession of cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, IDS, opium, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and magic mushrooms.
What Are Jails Like in Thailand?
According to iLaw, Thailand has some of the world’s worst overcrowded and unsanitary jails.
However, the conservative standard requires more than 2.2. Square meter surface for individual sleeping, the average amount is much less. Prisoners often have to sleep on their side to make room. Some dormitories don’t have beds; prisoners are forced to sleep on the floors. Many were quick to point out that the environment affects their health.
The convicted prisoner, Somyot Prueksakasemuk was detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison for seven years. During his time, he said that the sleeping conditions were the most ‘dehumanizing’ aspect. Through the years 2011 to 2018, there were barely any positive changes. It felt like an animal living in a cage.
Moreover, many prisoners pointed out skin diseases such as scabies, abscesses, and tuberculosis to be the most common. According to Thai statistics, 72% of inmates are held for drug-related offenses since the country has some of the harshest drug laws in the world. Possession of specific narcotics can lead to 10 years in prison. (Source)
You can get arrested in Thailand for many reasons, from lack of disrespect for religion to political remarks and social media posting. At the top of the list, Thailand, like many other countries, has strict rules regarding drugs and illegal substances. Although getting arrested in Thailand as a foreigner might sound like easy sailing, it is a rigorous and lengthy process. To stay out of trouble, make sure that you stay knowledgeable on what to do and not to do.
Like always, if you want to learn more about Thailand, stay with ThaiGuider. You might discover something you never knew about this unique country.
▸ Learn more about weird laws in Thailand: Strict (& Strange) Thailand Laws You Should Be Aware Of
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