U.S. Laws and your Legal Rights while Living in America

Civil Laws.  This applies to fulfillment of contracts, payment of bills, business arrangements, etc.  Contracts may be either written or spoken. If the conditions of the contract are violated by either party, the other party may bring suit in court to enforce the contract or to recover damages. A common contract for students to enter into is the lease of an apartment.  A civil suit may also be brought to court to force payment of legitimate bills or other financial obligations.

Legal Aid.  If you need legal aid in immigration or other matters, you should always consult International Student Services and Programs (ISSP). We may be able to assist you in locating the proper legal help.  You should always seek legal advice whenever you get into trouble with the law. The law is complex and often difficult to understand. 

Violating the Law.  Any violation of the law can affect an international student's immigration status. Offenses such as petty theft, drunkenness, and disturbing the peace might not directly affect the student's status, but will be kept on record and are occasionally reviewed by USCIS. Although a single minor offense usually is excused, if a student has committed several minor violations, there is always the possibility of deportation.

If You Are Arrested.   If you are arrested by the police, you should be aware of your rights. You are not required to answer questions except to identify yourself and to give your address. It is best to cooperate with law enforcement officials, but you must protect your rights as well. Your rights include:

  • The right to know what charges you are accused of.
  • The right to remain silent until you are questioned in the presence of your attorney.
  • The right to an attorney. If you do not have one, the court will provide one for
    you.
  • The right to a hearing in court the day following your arrest (except Saturday and Sunday). Remember that anything you say at the hearing may be used against you in court.
  • The right to two telephone calls. Call a friend or an attorney who can arrange
    your release OR telephone ISSP.