Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Evidence Located Abroad

How do I secure assistance in a criminal case?

The Office of International Affairs is an office in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice that supports the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses.  The Office assists state and federal prosecutors and law enforcement authorities to secure information and evidence from foreign countries for use in criminal investigations and trials in the United States.  State and federal prosecutors and law enforcement authorities may contact the Office of International Affairs to determine how best to request such assistance.  The Office of International Affairs is the Central Authority of the United States under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties in Criminal Matters (MLATs).  As the Central Authority, the Office of International Affairs implements the MLATs on behalf of the United States, including by making requests for assistance on behalf of investigators and prosecutors in the United States.

Will the Office of International Affairs make requests for assistance for defendants in criminal cases?

No.  By their terms, MLATs are reserved for use by the authorities of the parties, which include prosecutors and criminal investigators.  MLATs are not available for use by private parties, including criminal defendants.

I am a defense counsel. How do I secure evidence located abroad for use in a criminal case?

MLATs are reserved for use by the criminal law enforcement authorities of the parties, which include prosecutors and criminal investigators.  MLATs are not available for use by private parties, including criminal defendants.  If you are defense counsel seeking assistance in a criminal matter, you may request assistance from abroad through a letter rogatory transmitted through the State Department.  Please consult the guidance provided by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs here.

How do I secure assistance in a civil case?

For assistance in a civil case, please consult the Office of International Judicial Assistance in the Civil Division.

Updated June 11, 2015

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