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Defendants (criminal proceedings)

Where will the trial be held?

The trial will normally be held in the area where the offence was committed. The court that hears the case will depend on the nature of the offence; it will be the court whose turn it is in the rotation.

Will the trial be public?

The trial is, in general, public, unless it could be morally damaging, it could have an effect on public order or it could affect the victim or respect for the victim’s family.

Who will decide the case? A judge? A jury?

A judge or a court with three sitting judges will deliver judgment, depending on the offence or the conviction sought. A jury only hands down a verdict on innocence or guilt.

Can the charges be changed during the trial?

Exceptionally, the charges can be changed, but only if there is a mistake in the specification of charges.

What happens if I plead guilty to some or all of the charges during the trial?

If you plead guilty during the trial, the procedure will carry on to verify if you actually committed the crime you are charged with.

Will I be assisted by a lawyer during the trial?

You have the right to be assisted by a lawyer of your choice or by a legal-aid lawyer. If you do not like your lawyer, you may ask to be assisted by another lawyer.

Will I have the right to be assisted by an interpreter?

You have the right to be assisted by an interpreter if you do not understand the language.

Will I have to be present at the trial?

If the penalty for the offence in question is less than a two-year prison sentence, you will not have to be present at the trial.

If the penalty for the offence is more than a two-year term of imprisonment, you will have to be present at the trial.

If you are the suspect, you may not appear by way of video conference, even if you live in another Member State.

Will I have to speak at the trial?

You may speak at the trial only if you are asked a question. But, remember, you have the right to remain silent, to refuse to give testimony and not to plead guilty.

What are the consequences if I don’t tell the truth during the trial?

You have the right to remain silent, not to give testimony and not to plead guilty to the crime you have been charged with and not to incriminate yourself. You also have the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

What are my rights in relation to the evidence against me?

You have the right to challenge the evidence which is produced against you. Your lawyer will do that when he decides it is necessary.

What kind of evidence can I produce on my behalf?

You may produce all the evidence that you believe is necessary. You may produce the evidence, but the judge will decide if the evidence is admitted or rejected.

Can I use a private detective to obtain evidence for me?

If you believe it is necessary, you can use private detectives to obtain evidence; their reports are admissible as evidence.

Can I ask witnesses to speak for me?

The lawyer will request the admission of witnesses to speak for you. Your lawyer can also question the other witnesses and challenge what they say.

Will information about my criminal record be taken into account?

Yes, your criminal record and previous convictions will be taken into account as aggravating circumstances, both at the pre-trial phase and when judgment is delivered.

Previous convictions in another Member State will be taken into consideration depending on the crime committed.

What happens at the end of the trial?

At the end of the trial, the judge will deliver judgment. The verdict can be not guilty (no culpability) or conviction (you will be found guilty of committing the crime and, if appropriate, the penalty will be decided).

What are the possible outcomes of the trial?

The sentences may be:

  • imprisonment with a suspension of the sentence, if it is the first conviction and the sentence is less than two years;
  • a fine;
  • day -fines (X Euros times X amount of days. If you fail to pay the fine, you will have to serve one day of imprisonment for every two days of fine which is unpaid);
  • community work;
  • disqualification from driving;
  • non-molestation order;
  • prohibition against carrying weapons;
  • disqualification from holding public employment or office;
  • prohibition against living in or visiting certain places, etc.

What is the role of the victim during the trial?

The victim is considered as a witness for the prosecution and will give testimony during the pre-trial stage and during the trial.

Related links

Spanish Criminal Code

Last update: 11/03/2020

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.


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