While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the same protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Persons violating the law in a foreign country, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested, or imprisoned. If arrested abroad, a citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, and possibly convicted and sentenced. Within this framework, U.S. consular officers provide a wide variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families.
The UK is a sovereign nation and its laws apply to everyone who enters regardless of nationality. The U.S. government cannot get U.S. citizens released from a UK jail. However, a U.S. Consul can visit arrested U.S. citizens, provide a list of attorneys, provide information on the host country’s legal system, contact family or friends, protest mistreatment, and monitor prison conditions. Family or friends can send money to incarcerated individuals through the State Department.