Common Doubts in Stages of Criminal Proceedings
Often, foreign clients come to our office who have had criminal problems during their holiday (sometimes due to a theft or scam, other times due to fights or cases of gender violence), and in all cases two things occur:
The first is that the client finds themselves totally unaware of the stages and time frames of Spanish Criminal law proceedings. Our criminal lawyers are well aware that, due to recent legislative efforts to reduce the time limits of criminal proceedings, Spanish criminal law cases take time. This can be due to various reasons, such as the high volume of cases which the Judges can face and the need to complete some guarantees to preserve the principle of the presumption of innocence. The preparation of evidence can require professionals or third-party witness statements. This can also delay proceedings due to unforeseen circumstances (for example, if a key witness were to suffer from an illness which prevents them from making a statement for a few months, or, if a company or Administration were to delay their contribution of documents to the Judicial body).
Similarly, it is important to have in mind that Spain has different criminal procedures, and depending on which one you take, the proceedings can be shorter or longer. For example, with cases involving gender violence, the procedures tend to be known by the name “quick trial” and they tend to be resolved in a few months, for the majority of cases.
In general, criminal proceedings tend to be divided into three phases. In the first, called “investigation”, the events are investigated to discover what happened, to check if the facts are considered to be “criminal” and part of one of the different types of crime as highlighted by the criminal code.
The second is called the intermediary phase, in which the prosecution documents are presented (by the victims and/ or the Prosecutor) and defence (by the defendant).
The last is the phase in which the trial is held.
The second most common question which our clients present to us, as criminal lawyers in Spain, refers to the application of precautionary measures and specifically the measure of “custody” by the Spanish Courts. Among the elements which the judges consider for the implementation of this measure, with other aspects, is the severity of the crime, the risk of re-offending and also the risk of escape. In this case we have found, in practice, that being a foreign national sometimes plays against the client. This is because, in any case, there would be a greater risk of fleeing for foreign citizens. For example, we must consider the fact that that the offender may reside in a country without an extradition deal with Spain. It is evident, therefore, that in this case the foreigner could avoid justice by returning to their home country.
In reality, each case is different, and it is important to have in mind each possible outcome of a situation before choosing the route to take, as a general one cannot be applied. Cases such as these are taken extremely seriously by the Spanish Court of Law, and it is important to seek advice from a criminal lawyer should you be faced with a similar case. For example, a measure of imprisonment fixed by an investigative judge in Barcelona can face the Court of Appeal of Barcelona through the appellate (or appeals) procedure.
For all cases, the best way to reach a resolution, for the client, is to hire a good Criminal Lawyer who will prepare the proceedings.
For more information from our criminal lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact us