Have you experienced the situation of being informed that your son/brother (or any other close relative) has been arrested in Spain? This situation could be very distressing for different reasons:
- The main one, you do not understand the language.
- Your close relative / the person who contacts you in order to let you know that he/she has been arrested does not provide you with enough information.
- You do not know anything about Spanish Law.
- Therefore, you do not know the consequences of the arrest, the legal proceedings involved or the rights that your family member has during the arrest and the subsequent declaration in the police station
- You do not know how to find a lawyer in Spain who can represent your family member.
We have had many desperate calls from clients who have contacted us for the reasons above. Many lawyers deal with criminal matters, but not all of them are used to dealing with clients who are under these circumstances.
First of all, when a person is arrested by the police in Spain, they will ask him/her to appoint a private lawyer. In case the arrested person does not know any lawyer, the Government will be able to appoint a legal aid lawyer to assist him/her, so if a friend or family member is arrested in Spain, they will be assisted while in the police station by a lawyer who does not know him/her and you cannot know whether this professional is used to working with non-Spanish clients or if they have a good command of English. It may be that this professional does not speak English at all!
Note: once arrested, the detained person will be given an opportunity to contact a friend or family member. Often it is that person who contacts Advocate Abroad on behalf of the detained person.
Giving a Statement
In accordance with Spanish procedural Law, the individual under arrest has the right to be assisted by an interpreter during the declaration in case he/she does not speak Spanish. However, it could be that the interpreter is not present during the moments before the formal statement is taken, which is the most important moment to prepare the defence of the arrested person. Certain facts should not be mentioned, or directly the fact that you must state that you do not want to make a statement– this is a right that the arrested person has when placed under arrest and sometimes this can be the best line of defense.
A lawyer in Spain only needs a Court reference number (Diligencias Urgentes/previas) in order to go to the Court and review the paperwork, which will contain the evidence and charges against the arrested person.
We consider that this situation requires a lawyer who can keep the arrested person updated as well as their family during the entire proceedings, explaining the situation to them and especially, comparing the process with the equivalent process in Common Law, so everyone has a good understanding of which stage they are at.
Cases of Drunk and Disorderly
A typical situation that we see in our law firm is where a man is arrested in Spain as a result of a noisy argument in the street, often when he and/or his partner are under the influence of alcohol. Obviously, they were shouting at each other outside. In this case, a neighbour could contact the police, thinking that it is a domestic violence matter and even possibly the police (if this happens in the street) may consider it to be so.
If the police suspect that an individual is mistreating their partner (domestic violence), he will be automatically arrested by the police and, even in if the wife or partner declares that there was no violence, it is probable that the prosecutor (who acts in the name of the Government) continues with the prosecution. At the very least, the man will be arrested and taken to the cells of the police station and, subsequently, he will appear in Court before the Judge. In this case it is important to advise the wife/partner, as well as the arrested person.
During a statement in Criminal proceedings in Spain (either in the police station or in the courts), each word and expression is highly important. That is why it is essential for the lawyer who assists the arrested to speak fluent English and to understand the British idiosyncrasies and culture.
Furthermore, according to our experience, not all lawyers explain all of the details that should be available to the person who has been arrested. For instance, there is a recent precedent from the Spanish Supreme Court considering the declaration before the police not to be so important and confirming that the declaration before the Judge (in the Courts) takes precedence. This means that in case there are contradictions between the police and the Court declaration, the last one will be taking into account. These “details” make the difference between lawyers successfully obtaining the immediate release of their client and those who do not.
Specialist Criminal Lawyers in Spain
We are highly specialized in assisting English-speaking clients who have been taken to the police station on Spain as well as representation in Criminal proceedings in Court. We operate across all touristic areas of Spain.
Sometimes, the best option for the client is to negotiate with the prosecutor and reach an agreement with him; in this case the penalty could be reduced considerably, with a high possibility of avoiding a term of imprisonment, being relegated to a release on license, conditional on not getting involved in criminal activity for a period of two years. This can happen with several offences such as Drug Trafficking.