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27 Ago What if… you get arrested in Barcelona?

First of all, calm down and chill. It sounds stupid, I know, but many people freak out when dealing with the Police. It has no point, no purpose and no advantage. And the adrenaline will bring you down once it wears out.

However… please note that cops would only make an arrest if they suspect or there are signs a crime has been commited. Again, it may sound banal, but let me point out that in case of misdemeanor, the Police would not take you into custody, but only take your statement or summon you at the station. An arrest by the police implies the suspect is involved in an alleged crime or felony that, as a rule, entails more than 6-months prison sentence.

(of course, the Police might decide later on that the facts only constitute misdemeanor and not an actual felony, but that is a different and unfortunate matter…)

In any case, if you get arrested you will be taken to the Police Station. Most people have a general idea about their rights, especially if they have seen a lot of cop or court movies, but please allow me to provide some insight about the Spanish system.

Once in the Police Station, as a rule, the Police will inform you about your rights. Of course, you have the right to an attorney. After latest reforms, the lawyer is allowed to meet you before, during and after making a statement. You can make a statement without being assisted by a lawyer, but please note it is completely unadvisable. I am not saying this for professional reasons: in general, your statement in Police quarters has little influence on the procedure.

Hence the reason why we lawyers usually advise not to make a statement during the police enquiry. We usually deem advisable to make the statement in front of the Judge, for he shall decide about the procedure and your personal situation (i.e. whether you shall be formally accused and, furthermore, whether you should remain imprisoned).

As a rule, the whole “Police procedure” takes up to 24 hours before taking you to the Judge on Duty. But Law allows keeping you in custody up to 72 hours should the investigation require it.

Additional note (Barcelona and surroundings): in case you remain arrested, Barcelona Police usually takes detainees to a couple of determined Precincts wherefrom the Police vans take the prior day’s detainees to Court Hall.

While in custody, you have the right to ask for medical assistance and for a translator, at no cost. Please note that this might take time, of course (depending, among other, on the time of the day, and the tongue…). Therefore, make you sure you really need them.

Same applies to your consulate or Embassy: you have the right to inform of your arrest. Any delay on this regard is usually due to its public servants.

In addition, you have the right to inform your family or friends of your arrest and to make a call.

I forgot to mention that, should you not know or have the means to a lawyer, the Bar Association shall provide one.

All in all, here is what happens:

During police custody you will know very little about the case against you. Police will tell you (and your lawyer) about the alleged offence, date and time of arrest, some of the facts. We lawyers might not have access to the whole report until short before Court appearance, and we might not have access to all facts and evidence used against you (witnesses, recordings and police statements). This information, as well as your rights, will be given also in writing.

On your first court appearance, you and your Lawyer are formally and thoroughly informed about the allegations against you. The lawyer has access to the whole police report and case file.

During this appearance, the Judge will assess about the case and the accusation, and will decide about your situation, i.e. whether you should remain in custody for the time being. As a rule, the crime must entail a prison sentence longer than two years. The reasons to keep the defendant in custody are the following:

– Suspicion that the defendant will fail to attend their trial (absconding)
– Suspicion of evidence tampering

– Suspicion of repeating offence
– Suspicion of danger to the victim or witnesses

Please note that these reasons must be argued and well founded.
Wrapping up: The judge shall rule whether the procedure shall go ahead and, in addition, whether the accused remains in custody or is released. In this case, it might be under certain conditions, such as:
-a restraining order to go to certain places or contact certain people
-report to the police under a regular basis,
-prohibition to drive vehicles,
-mandatory drug re-hab,
-bail

Well, that’s it. Any further steps on the procedure belongs to another chapter…

 

Note and disclaimer: this entry has been written by Emmanuel Fons in July 2017. The author waives and disclaims any responsibility if any of the information provided is inaccurate and/or has been amended and/or modified by later reforms.

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