Brother is Australian - Arrested in the USA - How to Help?

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Jane B

9 April 2014
My brother is an Australian citizen and has been enjoying a holiday with a friend in California for the past month or so.

I received a call from him late late night. He was being transported to the county jail and had been arrested for DUI (drink driving).

He's almost out of spending money and our parents are unable to assist with money. How can the Australian Government help my brother? Do we need to hire a lawyer in California?

Alex W

9 April 2014
I had a friend that was arrested in the USA last year. His sister immediately called the DFAT Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135.

DFAT, via the nearest consulate office (I think it was San Francisco), attempted to contact my friend and this took 1-2 days with timezone differences, limited Australian Government resources, etc.

DFAT contacted my friend (still in jail at the time) and he consented to his sister being the designated contact in Australia between him and DFAT. My friend used his remaining money to buy a phone card and call home from jail.

He was represented for free by the court's Public Defender (I understand that this is similar to Legal Aid in Australia), paid a fine and was released after a week to return home. He was very lucky!

P.S. The DFAT website has a great guide on how the Australian Government can help when an Australian citizen is "banged up abroad". I've linked to it below.,_detention_and_imprisonment

Tim W

LawConnect (LawTap) Verified
28 April 2014
Have read of this link:

The Public Defenders will typically act without charge,
but you should not assume that they will have the resources
to be able to assist your brother to the extent you might wish.

Seeking advice from a criminal lawyer in California,
(particularly one familiar with the local law and courts
of the County in which he will be appearing)
is certainly something I would encourage.
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