For the average American traveler, being apprehended and arrested in a foreign country on criminal charges can be an unimaginable and bizarre experience. Whether he is in England, which has a legal system relatively similar to ours, or in China, which has a very different legal system, he is likely to be equally mistaken in believing that his status as an American citizen will be of any real assistance. Unfortunately, unless he happens to be with United States military forces or protected by some sort of diplomatic or other immunity, his criminal case will proceed from start to finish entirely within the framework of the foreign legal system.
Patricia M. Wilson, American Prisoners in Foreign Prisons: The Prisoner Transfer Treaties, 2 Penn St. Int'l L. Rev. 331 (1984).