Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

Arrest Procedures in Lithuania

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. Penalties for some crimes can be more severe than in the United States.  Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled by a court, fined, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect arrest, jail sentences, community service, and fines. If arrested abroad, a U.S. citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, possibly convicted and sentenced, and for any appeals.

In Lithuania, a unified national police force is responsible for law enforcement and operates under the authority of the Ministry of Interior. The Police Department is located at Saltoniškių g. 19, LT-08105, Vilnius. For more information about the police system in Lithuania, please visit the national police’s website.  To contact police authorities, please call +370 5 2719731 or e-mail In case of emergency call 112.

Lithuanian law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, but provides for two methods by which individuals may be taken into police custody: temporary apprehension and pre-trial detention. The law provides for the right to an attorney from the moment an individual is identified as a suspect.

Temporary apprehension may be imposed if: police catch a person committing a crime; police catch a person immediately after the person has committed a crime and police believe the person may flee the area or the police cannot determine the person’s identity; or the situation would permit pre-trial detention.  Police may hold a person in temporary apprehension for no longer than 48 hours, at the end of which the person must be taken to a judge if the person has not been released.  During the period of temporary apprehension, the police officer must prepare a case report with the person’s personal data and detention status, grounds for detention, and detention conditions and circumstances. The police officer and the person have to sign the report.  Upon apprehension, the person has the right to request an attorney’s presence or, if the person cannot afford one, the state will provide an attorney, if required by law.

Pre-trial detention may be imposed only when police must hold a person for more than 48 hours, and only when the alleged crime would carry a prison sentence longer than one year.  A court must approve any pre-trial detention. The police must reasonably believe the person will pose a flight risk, obstruct the investigation, or commit new serious crimes.  Police may hold a person in pre-trial detention for no more than three months, but a court may approve an extension for a maximum of 9 months (or up to 18 months in cases of serious and grave crimes).  For minors, a court may approve an extension up to 6 months (or up to 12 months in cases of serious and grave crimes).  During the pre-trial investigation phase, authorities will gather evidence against a person and determine whether to bring criminal charges.  Authorities may question the accused person during this process, but the person has the right to remain silent.

While you are in pre-trial detention, your family may visit you once a month. They must request visitation rights through the prosecutor or investigator.  Your attorney also may request visitation rights on your family’s behalf.  There is no limit for attorney visits with you at the prison facility. There is a prison doctor you can turn to at any time through the prison warden using a written form.  If you require additional medical resources, you must make a written request to the prosecutor to see a “non-prison” doctor.

Within this framework, U.S. consular officers provide a variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families.  If any U.S. citizen is arrested in Lithuania, ask the authorities to notify a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy immediately.  However, we cannot get you, or anyone, out of jail.  A consular officer can visit you in jail while you are under temporary apprehension, as well as once a month while you are in pre-trial detention and every six months if you are convicted.  If you wish, a consular officer may contact members of your family on your behalf. The Embassy can assist, with your authorization and the authorization of prison officials, in delivering any messages from your family to you and vice versa.  We can also transfer money, food, and clothing to prison authorities from your relatives for your benefit.  If you need dietary assistance, the Embassy can raise the issue through prison officials.  If needed, the Embassy may assist with vitamins or any specific medicine.

We encourage everyone to work via local Lithuanian attorneys. A list of attorneys who have offered their services to Americans is available on the Embassy website here or a consular officer can provide you a printed copy of this list. A consular officer cannot represent a U.S. citizen at trial, give legal advice, or pay legal fees and/or fines with U.S. Government funds.  In the end, only Lithuanian authorities have the power to resolve a dispute.

For more information on consular assistance for Americans arrested or imprisoned overseas, please visit Arrest or Detention of a U.S. citizen Abroad at

Last Updated: January, 2016