Time I need to worry about a criminal proceeding in Spain?


Posted and filed under Newsletters.

Recently, we have had a few people say they have had a criminal proceeding started against them in Spain. They have been unsure whether they could forget about it and leave it and it will eventually disappear.

If you do not respond to Spanish crminal proceedings?

If you do not engage with the Spanish criminal proceedings and you  never return to Spain, can you just forget about it? Well then the Court could suspend the proceeding until you are arrested unfortunately  could continue the trial in your absence.

If a guilty verdict is given, in your absence, what is the likelihood of you being extradited to Spain? So being forced to go to serve any sentence imposed? This could obviously varyfrom a fine or fine and/or community service, to prison time. This is up to the Judge, but if the crime is regarded as relatively serious then they could start an extradition proceeding in the home country. Howver, this would take a long time, especially if they had problems with addresses to send letters to. Often an address you provided to a Court in Spain when an incident happened may not remain valid. In the meantime, however, if you came to Spain or passed through a Spanish airport there would be a high risk of being arrested a the airport unfortunately.

When would the allegations/charges against you fall away ?

For example, due to passage of time under Spanish law. Well this all depends on the nature of the crime, how serious it was, and also if the time limitation is interrupted at all. Some more serious misdemeanours like sexual assault for example it would take ten years.

Do I really have to pay to come to Spain for a Court hearing?

Yes, unfortunately, if a letter like this is received, you should come to Spain, and the expenses will all need to be paid by you. In addition, you really should engage a Spanish lawyer.

What if I did not have to sign for a Court Document?

This could possibly be used in defence as a defect in service when you do engage a lawyer. However, they will keep trying so it is only delaying the inevitable really. A Judge could understand that as a document was not returned undelivered, that it was delivered to you. Thus, they would assume you got it, or you could try to defend that you didn’t when eventually questionned about this.

Do I need my own lawyer?

Of course, the best action is always to have a good lawyer. Very often you will have the option of taking the lawyer provided by the Court, a legal aid lawyer.   Our lawyers do not do legal aid cases, and generally we do not recomend our clients use a legal aid lawyer, as usually they will not speak English. And really, if unfortunately, you are in this situation then you want the best defence possible to make it all disappear as quickly as possible.

If you or any of your friends are in this unfortunate situation, please contact us regarding the criminal matter and we will try to assist.


  • Faisal beyari

    I have a trail for fraud and although i posses the funds they have confiscated my passports and i have no way of getting to those funds wu or otherwise. I want to ask them if they can allow me to go to my country and get the funds to clear my name and pay the fine i have. What can i do

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Faisal, You need to employ a criminal lawyer local to where the trial is being held to represent you. Kind regards

  • denise Jackson

    hi in 2013 I was arrested in Spain for a large amount of tobacco coming from Gibraltar I had to sign every 2 weeks which I did up till 2019 I asked lawyer what was happening as taking a very long time he replied case has collapsed yesterday lawyer from Spain said case is going to trial in February 2021 and possibly looking at 3 years 9 month in prison I have left Spain last year what would happen if i don’t go back to Spain thanks

    • Jane

      Hi Denise

      This looks to be a duplicate, Amanda has replied to previous post.


  • sany d

    hi in 2013 I was arrested in Spain for a large amount of tobacco coming from Gibraltar I had to sign every 2 weeks which I did up till 2019 I asked lawyer what was happening as taking a very long time he replied case has collapsed yesterday lawyer from Spain said case is going to trial in February 2021 and possibly looking at 3 years 9 month in prison I have left Spain last year what would happen if i don’t go back to Spain thanks

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Sany, You must go back to Spain for the trial, if you do not attend you may be arrested at the airport when you step foot in Spain again and worst they could pass the file to the country where you are living and it cause problems for you there.

  • RJ

    I got in an accident in Madrid while under the influence. I blew a 1.25, but wasn’t arrested, no people were involved, just 2 parked cars. I signed a paper about investigation I guess, so I assume it’s not over. But they didn’t give me any court date and weren’t very clear on what happens next. I got my car back from impound.

    My question is more about the address I gave them. I decided to drop out of school here and move back to Norway, so wondering how I can inform them to send any follow up there (rather than the Spanish address I will no longer be living at). I tried to register/change at https://sede.dgt.gob.es/es/otros-tramites/direccion-electronica-vial/, but can’t access it (invalid certificate errors etc). Is it enough to send an email to the local police and the address on the investigation paper, or is there more I should conisder?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Good morning. I do not think it will be over unfortunately, especially as damage to the other cars, but it may take a long time as they need to trace the owners and maybe wait for a Court date. Start with the email to the police as you said, and let us know if you dont hear anything in a couple of weeks but really you need a lawyer local to Madrid. Good luck!

  • Jibran ali

    Hi I’m living in Spain illegal few months before i was moving on the street and police arrest me and ask for my documents i said i don’t have so they arrest me and bring me to police station and took my finger prints and told me to leave our country within the time period of 6 months but i didn’t left i continuously living in Spain so few days before police again arrest me and call me to police station but after few minutes they let me to go home but today they call me and said that tomorrow you have to come to court in front of judge
    My question is that why they call me in court i don’t have any criminal record
    If i go to court what they do with me they deport me to my country ?
    If i don’t go what happens with me ?
    Please tell me

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Jibran, We do not deal with Visa issues, so we cannot advise you on this I am sorry. But you are living in Spain illegally as you are aware.

  • Sian

    In May 2019 I collided with a motorcycle in my car and sadly the motorcyclist died on the scene. I was pulling out of a stop sign (where I had stopped and checked before pulling out but the cyclist was speeding and hit my car.) I had not been drinking and not on drugs, I went to the police station and gave a statement as did my 20 yr old daughter who was in the car with me a nd the a few months later we went to court and was found not guilty and as far as I was concerned the case was closed and the family of the motorcyclist got paid out by my insurance company. I have suddenly had an email from a solicitor who is acting on behalf of my original solicit or (who is in hospital) to say I am now being taken to court by the prosecution service and I could face a fine, loss of license or imprisonment. Please can you explain this situation to me. I am British but , live and work in Spain legally.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Sian, We are so sorry to hear your story. This is very unusual. Although it is possible for the public prosecutors (Fiscal) to take a case forward themselves even though settled, it would be very rare if a case has been held and a Judge declared you were not guilty. You do need legal assistance, but it needs to be local to the Court. Can you send an email please for the attention of Amanda copying this above and advising where the Court is and also attaching the original Resolution from the Court and we will advise. With kind regards, Amanda

  • Quentin

    Dear Amanda,
    After being stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol in Andalucia, I had to go to Court the next day and didnt accept The Judge’s bargain of losing my license for 6 months with a 1,000 Euro fine.
    I have been given a court hearing in Sept 2021 and told to expect to be found guilty, lose my licence for 2 years and get a 2,000 Euro fine.
    If I leave Spain before the trial, are the Spanish authorities likely to pursue me if I am in the UK or an EU country? If I leave avoid Spanish territories for a few years would I be OK? Thanks in advance!

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Quentin, You will have received my email response yesterday on this issue. Kind regards

  • jamie curtis

    Hi, I was arrested back a couple of years ago for drugs being found in my car, which admittedly they was mine and in the court hearing I admitted fault and had to pay a fine and nothing else was then done. I have been back to Spain/ibiza a couple of times since and I still receive court papers to sign from the police every time. Do I need to action this even though it was settled? It just mentions on the letter what happened and statement of facts. It doesn’t say I need to go back and have another hearing so please advise your thoughts if this could be done in error

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Jamie, I am sorry but to advise we need you to send us a copy of the last communications you received from the police and the sentence. Kind regards Amanda

  • mark ramsden

    Hi I was arrested in March 210 I spent two years on remand for tax fraud I was released on bail I have been signing at the spanish Embassy in London for 9 years not they want to charge me they are asking for9 yrs prison but there a various crimes they say I have committed so do they run concurrently plus they want 13 million Euros fine lol they are mad how does the fine work now we are outside the EU

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi Mark, I am sorry to hear this. I am afraid this is far too serious an issue to give a quick response with no knowledge of the case. You should refer to your lawyer, With kind regards

  • Clark Henderson

    From my research it is unclear whether trial in absentia is allowed in Spain.
    I presume it is under certain circumstances? Any clarification would be appreciated!

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Clark, It would be highly unusual. More often a trial is suspended until someone is able to attend. But it does depend on the situation, Court, proceeding. You should speak to your own lawyer on the case really for their view, With kind regards

  • Bruce

    Hi, I have been told by a spanish lawyer that my case has been ‘Prescribed’. What does this mean?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Afternoon Bruce,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      “Prescribed” means your period for claiming has expired. We hope this helps.

      Kind regards

  • Seymour

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for the blog post. I have a question. I was fired by my previous employer 3 years ago for allegedly taking private customer information and starting a company in parallel. While I was exploring options of starting my own business, I never actually did so. Long story short, after my contract was terminated, a case was filed against me at the local police station. I was subsequently asked to go there and interview the police. I explained the situation and they said that while they are unsure if this constitutes a criminal offence, they will still send my file for the judge to decide. It’s been slightly more than 3 years now and I haven’t heard anything. I tried to check my records online and I tried going to the courts to ask for my file, both of which came back empty. It’s a bit stressful feeling like I might get a letter at any day so I also wanted to ask what your opinion would be? Thank you.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Good morning, I checked with the solicitor and they said as you have heard nothing in 3 years, we believe you can assume the matter is closed, Kind regards

  • Ali summers


    To the cut the story short, I had business for 4 years on the costa, unfortunately it went pair shaped, I left spain in September 2020, I recently been told 2 of the business partners have reported me for fraud and theft worth about 15 to 20k euros so not to much, they have reported me of theft of stock from the business. As my family live in spain I do like to come a lot plus I have been coming to spain my whole life, I haven’t heard nothing from the police as of yet, but I’m amusing there’s a arrest warrant out of me, can I get Extradited for this. What do you recommend

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Ali, If you send us any documentation you have from the Courts and police or lawyers, if any, we can advise. Otherwise we can maybe investigate if there is a criminal proceeding against you. It is a relatively inexpensive procedure, a few hundred euros or thereabouts. Kind regards

  • Iain

    Was charged with assault in June19 which through my Spanish lawyer strongly refuted On grounds of self defence.I knocked a guy out with ONE punch as he ran towards me saying twice that he was going to F….ing kill me.Have not heard anything from either lawyer or Torrevieja court since .Is this the norm?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Afternoon Ian,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      It would be best to contact the Solicitor who represented you, they would be able to advise you correctly. We hope this helps.

      Kind regards

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Iain, Sorry to hear this. It varies considerably with every Court and the pandemic has only made it worse. You need to contact your lawyer, as he is in the proceeding and ask him what is happening. Kind regards and good luck.

  • Scott Price

    last year I was stopped in ibiza on 2 occasions by the police and my friend had drugs on him.
    On the 1st occasion they took pictures of our passports and didn’t take the drugs off us or issue a fine and let us carry on.
    On the second occasion they took pictures of our passport again, took the drugs, assaulted us and stole money.
    Do you know what they will do with the passport details?
    Will I have a problem when I come back to ibiza? Will I be stopped?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi, I have referred to our lawyer who has said the following “If the police stop and find out that you are carrying drugs, theykeep them. Depending on the amount, they put a fine or not. The police do not assault (except in defensce) or steal money. In any case, if the agents did not give them a copy of any statement, there is no pending matter in the police department. It may even be that they weren’t even real policemen. I don’t think there is a problem returning to Ibiza if nothing has happened but this”. Kind regards.

  • Steven Lewis

    My elderly mother was on holiday in Spain a few years ago and had her caravan broken into. She reported it to the police, as needed reference number for insurance, but has now received a summons to appear in court in Spain as a witness. She didn’t actually witness anything, but the summons mentions fines for not attending. She is 77, not in the best health (although she probably could travel, she would not be able to do so on her own) , she cannot really afford the costs of attending (flights and accommodation for herself plus one other). She is also an unofficial carer for her disabled husband who could not be left on his own for the duration. Does she really have to attend? She is not unwell enough to qualify for a letter from her doctor saying she is unfit to travel, but being elderly and slightly infirm I would not allow her to travel alone, and if I go with her there is no-one to look after my step father. What are our options? Thank you.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Steven, I will respond to you directly by email, Kind regards, Amanda

  • Nic

    Hi, I was arrested in Ibiza in 1999 and charged with cocaine trafficking (even though i did not bring it into the country, only had in my possession ) and was released on bail. i left the country without travel documents by sea and road and then ended up back in the uk. Scotland yard contacted me at my fathers house a few years later, I was out of the country at the time, and i spoke with them on the phone and they said they had a summons for me to return to court in spain but there was no extradition, off the record he said just don’t turn up and don’t go back to spain. I have heard no more about this in 22 years but would like to go back to spain on holiday or potentially buy a property. My question is would there still be ramifications after 22 years or is there a statute of limitation etc? I have lived a crime free life since this incident and unfortunately something i did when i was 21 and stupid is now coming back to haunt me. Any advise is much appreciated.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Nic, I am sorry but we don’t we have enough information to give you an answer. The statute of limitations for crimes varies depending on the penalty given. I would advise you to contact a lawyer in Ibiza to investigate this for you as we only deal with local cases in the Courts. With kind regards Amanda

  • Demi

    I was assaulted by a police officer in Ibiza the other night and arrested for standing outside my gate after 10pm. It was not in self defence, and I have suffered injuries. I have been fined with resisting arrest, however I was trying to protect myself as he was violent and attacked me as soon as he saw me. I was coerced into signing a form pleading guilty, or I’d go to prison. I cannot afford the fine, and shouldn’t be fined for being assaulted. Legal aid lawyer was no help at all.

    Would it be possible to talk with someone by email please as I’m getting nowhere everywhere I look.

    Thank you

    • Amanda Thomas

      We are sorry to hear this but you need advice from a lawyer in Ibiza, we are not in the Spanish islands. Kind regards

  • Claire

    My mother accompanied a neighbour to court who was accused of hitting a tourist. At the court the woman accuser then said it wasn’t the neighbour, but was actually my Mother. She had to return the following week and denied hitting her. She said the whole proceedings were in Spanish and she didn’t understand what was going on. She had to miss work to attend and didn’t want to lose her job. So she asked how she could make the ridiculous situation go away and was told to pay a 3 euro fine. We have now discovered 2 years later that she has a criminal record for ABH. She did not hit the woman and told them this at the time. Is there any way now to appeal? This was in Costa Blanca area.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Claire, No, this would be too late to appeal, but maybe we could have the criminal record erased. Could you please send us all the paperwork and ask if we can get the criminal record cancelled, including the note above. Kind regards. Amanda

  • Jason withey

    Me and my partner had a argument which got a bit heated the neighbour heard us and got me arrested I’m due in court on the 17 ov May but live in England and can’t afford 2 go back wat will happen if I don’t attend my partner don’t want charges against me but the court in spain are still going ahead with it what will happen if I don’t attend

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Jason, You need to find some assistance to come back to Spain for the Court hearing, it is very important. This is serious and unfortunately a Judge can send an order to the UK for the police to search for you, or carry on the hearing without you there and find you guilty and again that have repercussions in the UK. You need to come back with a copy of the paperwork from the Court to enter into Spain, I am sorry. Unless you can provide the Court with some paperwork such as a doctor’s report that you are not fit to travel at the current time and they could suspend the hearing. You could also try to request with the Court directly that you attend by a web link, but this might not be possible for this case. Kind regards

  • Leon

    Hi I was due to hear about unpaid community work in costa Blanca and I am still waiting I haven’t received any paperwork what so ever my old landlord wanted me out of apartment where the court had the address for and my lawyer here didn’t respond to me to tell her about address change the community work is for being with my partner we had a argument in the street and they banned us from being together even though nothing happened I am back in England as I couldn’t get residency should I be worried about it chasing me back to uk

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Leon, You need to contact your lawyer in Spain. It could cause problems in the future but it depends on the case, and only your lawyer can advise you. I recommend you do that. Kind regards

  • Janice Daughtrey

    Hi I made a denuncia against a neighbor in April snd now have a court hearing for the 7/7 however we have since resolved our issue and wish yo cancel the court hearing… please advise

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Janice, I have already responded to you on email regarding this, Kind regards

  • Mary

    Hi Amanda, I was intentionally overdosed by drugs by a person I know here in Spain (without knowing I had taken the drugs) and considering making legal steps. May I ask you how long it approximately takes to wait for a court in the Canaries and how much would a good lawyer costs approx. be? I’m still considering if it’s worth the stress or better to try to make some solution outside the court. Thank you for the advise.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Mary, I am sorry but we only deal with Courts close to us on the mainland. But you should certainly consider going to the police there to do a denuncia, and contacting a lawyer in the islands. Kind regards Amanda

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