Being under arrest in Spain and your rights

Being under arrest in Spain and your rights

1. Under arrest

An individual can be arrested either before a criminal proceeding is initiated, during prosecution or once it is completed.

1.1. How long may the arrest last?

The detained must either be released or brought before a Judge within 24 hours from the arrest.

If you are detained in custody you may be held in a police cell for up to 72 hours, then you must either be released or brought before a Judge.

1.2. Who may arrest the offender? under which circumstances?

It is the police’s duty to arrest the person who is under any of the circumstances described below:

  • Should the offender intend to commit an offence.
  • When the citizen sees suspicious activity, or knows that a crime is being committed.
  • Where a search order is issued against the defendant for contempt.
  • Where the convicted is escaped from prison.
  • Where there is an European Arrest Warrant or extradition has been issued against such person.

A private citizen may also arrest the offender in the above cases under certain circumstances.

The Spanish Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest.

1.3. Your rights as a detained person

If you are detained, be aware that you must be informed in a language that you understand and in detail of the nature and cause of the accusation against you.

Your rights as a detained person are guaranteed under Article 17 of the Spanish Constitution:

  • You have the right to remain silent and not plead guilty of the offence you are charged with.
  • You may appoint a private Lawyer and have that Lawyer during questioning. If you do not appoint a lawyer or cannot afford him, one will be assigned by the court.
  • An interpreter must assist you if you cannot understand or speak Spanish.
  • You have the right to be examined by the Court Doctor.
  • The Consulate office of your home country in Spain must be informed about your arrest.

The judge may determine in specific cases no communication with the detained person, and thus he cannot inform his family about his arrest, the Lawyer will be then assigned ex officio.

For much more detailed information we attach a link to, a criminal justice watchdog, campaigning for fairness, equality and justice:



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