If you ever unfortunately become victim to a crime in Costa Rica — you’re going to want to think long and hard about involving yourself in a legal process that could rob you of your sanity.
Firstly it is worth explaining that the legal process in Costa Rica is based off what is called a Napoleonic Code.
Although the majority of countries throughout the world have adapted English Common Law as their foundation for a legal system, Costa Rica has remained using an ancient and relatively unchanged legal process in the Napoleonic Code.
Here is an exert taken from Wikipedia:
The Napoleonic Code—or Code Napoléon (originally, the Code civil des français)—is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified.
It was drafted rapidly by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on March 21, 1804. The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws. Historian Robert Holtman regards it as one of the few documents that have influenced the whole world.
Now although the Napoleonic Code is a proven and effective legal guide, here in Costa Rica where corruption runs at it’s very core…the system opens itself to abusers and corrupt opportunists.
We all have read the headlines about how out of control the corruption is becoming here, but how does that affect the legal process?
To put it bluntly…I serves as a guillotine that chops the very head of justice clean off and making it nearly impossible for ANYONE to receive a fair trial. For within corruption there is only one ruling and determining factor…MONEY.
Time and time again in Costa Rica, we are witness to repeated news stories covering judges, police, clergy, lawyers, notaries and yes…even presidents, who are charged and convicted of fraud and corruption.
One does not have to venture far to read all kinds of stories (horror) on what it is like to be involved in a 10 year legal battle against — not only the criminals, but also the legal process itself.
I personally have an Australian friend of mine who was here on a Costa Rica vacation for a month or so when, on his last few days in the country, he would be involved in a serious car accident near Dominical.
This friend of mine was not speeding, was not drunk, had insurance and to this day (2 months later) has not been charged with reckless driving or any criminal charges whatsoever.
Yet…Costa Rica has chosen to restrict him from leaving for minimum 1 year.
Can you imagine? You’ve got insurance coverage and yet without any criminal charges…they have the power to take away the freedom of an Australian national.
Maybe you think this is a unique case?
Having been involved in a 6 year legal nightmare myself (with no end in sight) that involved corrupt lawyers and notaries without a shred of conscious, robbing their client right to her death bed, I can definitively tell you that if you have a choice to resolve your dispute outside of the Costa Rica legal system…TAKE IT!