There are two major aspects to this crime – those who have suffered an attack, and those who have been accused of committing the offence. Of course, this is – rightly – a highly emotive offence in our society and is therefore treated in a unique way. As with all alleged offences, there is a presumption of innocence and a right to a trial. This can often be a traumatic experience for any victim of such a crime.
If you are a Victim of a sexual assault, it is highly recommended to immediately call an ambulance or visit the nearest hospital, if needed and, obviously, to call immediately the police or visit the closest police station in order to file a report.
Once the report is made, you will be called to make a statement to the police and, usually the next day, before a Court. When making such a statement you have the right to be assisted by a translator, if you don’t speak Spanish. You should request one if they are not initially provided.
You have the right to be party in the proceeding against the defendant. In order to do that you have to appoint a lawyer and a procurador (an agent of the court required to be present in legal proceedings).
You can claim compensation against the defendant within the criminal proceedings.
If someone has reported you as the author of a sexual assault, according to the seriousness and the credibility of the report you may be arrested by the police.
Once you are arrested, you will make a statement to the police and, usually the day after, before the Court.
You will be assisted by a lawyer, in case you don’t appoint any lawyer you will be randomly assigned a public lawyer. Please note that is highly probable that the public lawyer will not be able to speak English, as most lawyers in Spain do not speak English.
In any case, this is not necessarily a problem since you always have the right to appoint a private lawyer, at any stage in the proceedings.
Furthermore, you always have the right to be assisted by a translator, if you don’t speak Spanish.
After arrest the Court will probably release you, unless the situation is considered to be particularly serious. So, you may be released with charges (passport withdrawn, required to confirm an address for notifications by the Court) and the proceedings will then usually take place.
For these reasons, it is really important to always maintain communications with your lawyer, even if you have been released, otherwise your chances of receiving a guilty verdict will be much higher, as you won’t be able to be defended properly in the legal proceedings.