Have you been arrested in Spain? Giambrone & Partners' criminal defence lawyers will help you through your misfortune
As the summer approaches many people look forward to travelling to Spain, one of the most popular holiday destinations for the British. As you enjoy sun and the sand and a relaxing holiday, you should be aware that as Spain has long endured a minority of British tourists who engage in drunken and violent anti-social behaviour, relatively recently a number of new laws have been introduced to address this problem. Such as tightening up on dress codes, using an outside space as a lavatory but most particularly on alcohol consumption. In some of the most popular areas new laws have been introduced limiting the consumption of alcohol to six glasses served with lunch or dinner. Also, prohibiting “off-license” sales to a limited amount of time during the day but not in the evening. It is important to remember that the attitude of the police and the laws differ considerably in different counties. If you are considered to be uncooperative by the Spanish police that in itself is a criminal offence to authority.
Hundreds of British citizens are arrested in Spain each year, the vast majority of whom have no understanding of Spanish law and assume that the Spanish authorities will regard the reason for their arrest in the same way as the British authorities or that they will be treated in custody in the same way as a person would be in the UK. Most British people arrested in Spain do not know their rights when they are in custody.
Gabriela González-Cremona, a senior associate in the Barcelona office, commented “there are a range of rights extended to foreign individuals arrested in Spain, including the right to a lawyer able to speak your language. Unfortunately, the Spanish duty lawyer’s English may not be very good and you may still not understand what is happening. It is far better to appoint your own lawyer immediately and get good legal advice right from the start” Garbriela further commented “after 72 hours in custody you must either be allowed to return home if the charge is considered minor or you will be brought before a judge. If you do not understand the charges or what is happening and you are allowed to return home, you could mistakenly believe that nothing further will happen and discover much later that you are required to return to Spain to be charged with a crime in Spain. On some occasions, the judge himself does not speak English and we have had to act as interpreters, in defence of our clients, which allows us to best defend their interests, and avoid waiting for an official interpreter, which can take several hours.”
In a case reported in the British press two men boasting about being millionaires invited large numbers of people into a lively Spanish bar buying them drinks and running up a very large drinks bill that they later refused to pay. When they were asked to settle the bill they refused to pay and became aggressive and were unsurprisingly subsequently arrested. The Spanish National Police in Madrid confirmed that the men had been arrested and charged with fraud.
In Spain fraud involving a sum under €400 will be regarded as minor and will attract a fine. If the sum is greater than this you could be sentenced to several years in prison in Spain and pay a fine of up to six times the amount. In England & Wales the charge would be theft and would probably attract a fine if prosecuted that depends on your economic capacity and the seriousness of the facts. In addition, there will be a civil liability that corresponds to the amount of what was consumed and was not paid for. Also, you will have to pay the costs of the trial.
Giambrone & Partners has a highly competent English speaking criminal defence team in Spain who have assisted many British people when they been arrested in Spain and either have successfully defended them and limited the consequences of their arrest or have been able to get the charges dropped. The most important thing is to be supported by a lawyer as soon as possible, particularly if you do not speak Spanish. Our lawyers can also help you if you have unexpectedly received a request to return to Spain to face charges and will assist with plausible arguments for your release.
Gabriela Gonzalez-Cremona Nogales has been a member of the Barcelona Bar Association since 1990. She has a wide range of expertise in civil and criminal law and specialises in criminal defence. She has successfully defended foreign nationals that have been arrested in Spain and can provide initial assistance when an individual is taken into custody and ensure that their rights are maintained.
She is a member of the European Association of Economic Interest which collaborates between law firm across Europe to assist foreign nationals who visit or reside in Spain.
If you have been arrested in Spain and face criminal charges please click here for assistance