Drugs in Thailand and what to do if you get arrested

ROBERT:

In Bangkok. This is Siam Legal International, and you are listening to TLP (Thailand Legal podcast), a weekly discussion on life in Thailand and Thai Law.

I am Robert Virasin, legal manager at Siam Legal, and I’m joined by Tim Kienthong, a litigation attorney at Siam Legal.

Today we are going to talk about drugs in Thailand and what to do if you get arrested. First Tim, can you tell me about the use of illegal narcotics in Thailand?

TIM:
Well, drugs in Thailand under Thai law, basically, you should have the permission to possess or consume marijuana, methamphetamine or whatever drug it is. But the law says you can obtain the permission, but normally they don’t do this in Thailand. So don’t think that you could obtain it later when you bring the drug into Thailand because you got caught first.

ROBERT:
Tim, can you tell me what the legal consequences of being in possession or using drugs in Thailand?

TIM:
Well, if you’ve been in possession of drug and narcotics in Thailand, and legal consequence of that is, you’ll be entitled for imprisonment time or fine or maximum sentence in Thailand is a death sentence, so be careful with it.

But anyway, the punishment of possession for consumption and possession for distribution has a slightly different punishment for that. Let’s say most of the case, possession for consumption has less punishment than possession for distribution, in which case to become a possession for distribution or possession for consumption is determined by the amount of pure substance that you possess. So the pure substance will appear later in the case.

ROBERT:
Can you tell me about the legal process, what happens after someone is arrested in Thailand?

TIM:
Well, when someone has arrested in Thailand under possession for distribution or possession for consumption in the case of drugs, first things first, you have to know you’re right. And I believe that it’s the same everywhere in the world that you have the right to remain silence. You have the right to call your close relative. You have the right to have your attorney to represent you in the case. But the most important thing is you have to call your attorney as soon as possible because in the process of investigation, sometimes the police or investigator has their technique to extract the facts from you. And whatever you say in the case or in the investigation can be used against you in the court when the hearing of evidence. And basically, I recommend to refute the offense entirely because that will make it easier for us to just fight to defend against the offense later on.

ROBERT:
So you recommend Tim to make sure that you get an attorney to represent your rights?

TIM:
Yes. Or you can call your embassy or consulate here in Thailand to seek for help because consulate or embassy always have a list of English speaking attorney. As Siam Legal, we are English speaking attorney, so we could be at your help, but you have to call us as soon as possible.

ROBERT:
So, Tim, can you tell me where do tourists generally get in trouble with drugs or illegal narcotics?

TIM:
Well, most of the case here tourists get in trouble in the place you have less carefulness, such as night club or strip club or those place in red light district, because sometimes when you get drunk and somebody or just a girl at the club just ask you to get some pills that make you more happy. That is the time that most of the tourists or foreigners get involved with the consumption of the drug.

ROBERT:
So it means that they’re more susceptible at that time when they’re enumerated?

TIM:
Yes, it is.

ROBERT:
So would you recommend people staying away from those places?

TIM:
Well, you can hang out and go party whenever you want, but what you have to remember is you have to be very careful about where you go, what you’ve taken from people or what is the pills or whatever you have taken from people, because if it’s in your hand, you are in possession of that thing.

ROBERT:
Is there a problem with non Thai or foreigners being arrested for drugs in Thailand?

TIM:
Well, legal proceedings for a Thai or non Thai are practically the same. But I think the most impact for non Thai or foreigner got caught in Thailand and that is because you are away on your holiday trip and you got no relative here in Thailand and you kind of desperate. Sometimes desperation brings you to do something that is slightly stupid. I got to say, because in desperation, if someone tried to offer you something and you get it without logical thinking, so sometimes they would have the worst consequence than remain silenced. So that’s why I recommend you to remain silenced and call your attorney.

ROBERT:
So somebody might plead guilty without actually being guilty just to get out of the situation?

TIM:
Yeah, exactly. That’s why I recommend at first place to remain silence and call the attorney as soon as possible.

ROBERT:
Okay. So can you give me maybe two or three advice about what non Thai should do if they’re arrested in Thailand?

TIM:
Well, if you got arrested in Thailand, whatever offense, assault or in offense related to drugs, first thing, you have to call the attorney because you need someone who knows the laws and consequences of the law and the requirement of the law and as they try to help you or assist you in the process of this.

And secondly, you have to remember your right. You have the right to remain silence, you have the right to refuse the offense entirely, and you have the right to call your relative. So that would be a vital step to remember if you got caught in Thailand, because I think got caught in a foreign country may sometimes require fund to help right yourself, approve your innocence in the court of law. So it’s better to notify your relative about your incidents in Thailand.

ROBERT:
Would you recommend maybe the client keeping a phone number in case they are in some places that might have might place them in situations where they might get into problems.

TIM:
Yeah, it’s a good advice to get an English speaking attorney number at your phone the place you can just call them right away, if you got call or whatever.

ROBERT:
Thank you, Tim.

TIM:
You’re welcome.

ROBERT:
This has been Thailand legal podcast brought to you by Siam Legal International. If you have any questions or would like to submit future topics, please emailus at tlp@siamagal.com or visit us at our website.

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