How to contact a lawyer after being arrested in Japan
After being detained in Japan, the next step you’ll want to take is securing a criminal defense lawyer. You may be wondering what kinds of resources you’ll have for contacting a lawyer while you are in jail. It might not be as easy as you are expecting to find and contact a lawyer while detained, so keep reading to learn about your options.
Options for requesting a lawyer
You can request a duty attorney (tōban bengoshi), or hire a lawyer if you know his/her name and contact information — you should have this memorized ahead of time. It is not permitted to search for a lawyer on the Internet or by other means, so it’s best to be prepared ahead of time with your own lawyer’s information.
In the case that you request a duty attorney, you can ask the police to contact a bar association on your behalf. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations established the Duty Attorney System in collaboration with local bar associations throughout Japan. Under this system, you do not need to know your own lawyer. You simply request the police to call a duty attorney on your behalf and they will make contact with the nearest local bar association. Shortly afterwards, a lawyer will come to visit you. There is no charge for the first call to the duty attorney. However, note that most duty attorneys do not speak English.
Choosing a private lawyer or court-appointed lawyer
In the case of court-appointed lawyers, they are typically assigned to suspects who are unable to retain counsel due to poverty or for other reasons. Note that most court-appointed lawyers do not speak English. For this reason alone, it would be best to retain a private, English-speaking lawyer in the case that you do not speak Japanese fluently.
Contact an English-speaking lawyer
It is strongly advised to have the contact information of an English-speaking lawyer ahead of time. You don’t want to wait until it is too late when you are already in jail and not permitted to search for your own lawyer.
This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice.