Best Lawyers for Criminal Defense in Spain

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Lawyer
  • Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Madrid, Spain
  • Practice Areas:
    Criminal Defense Corporate Governance & Compliance Practice
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Madrid, Spain
  • Practice Areas:
    Arbitration and Mediation Criminal Defense

  • Location:
  • Practice Areas:

Practice Area Definition

Criminal Defense Definition

Those not acquainted with the peculiarities of Spanish criminal proceedings might be surprised by the existence of the private prosecution: the victim’s own right to bring charges. Thus, in Spain, Criminal Law practitioners not only offer defense counsel to the accused, but can also represent the victim in seeking civil damages ex delicto within the very same criminal proceedings, as well as requesting the imposition of criminal penalties on the defendant (even if contrary to the opinion of the public prosecutor).

The practice of Criminal Law can broadly be divided in two on the basis of the nature of the offenses that counsel is retained to deal with: on one hand non white-collar crime (e.g. theft, robbery, drug related offenses, hate crimes, assaults, sexual assaults, homicides, etc.) and on the other white-collar crime (e.g. fraud, bribery, embezzlement, insider trading, identity theft, money laundering, etc.). Not all Criminal Law lawyers offer counsel on non white-collar crime matters, usually due to their firm’s policy, particularly in firms with multiple areas of practice. Penalties under Spanish Criminal Law range from a fine to imprisonment and in cases of criminal corporate liability may even result in the judicial dissolution of the legal person.

For these reasons it is essential to obtain expert and specialized counsel from the very moment that criminal proceedings are directed against a suspect or conversely, a person is the victim of a crime. The pre-trial investigation phase is conducted by an examining magistrate who is ultimately responsible for ruling between the dismissal of the proceedings or moving forward to trial. Actions undertaken during this pre-trial investigation phase are of paramount importance to the client as they can be instrumental in the examining magistrate decision and affect the imposition of precautionary measures such as the freezing of assets or preventive detention.

Under Spanish law, trials are held before a single judge (other than the one responsible for the pre-trial investigation) or a panel of several judges, depending on the severity of the penalty faced by the defendant. Jury trials are limited to a set number of specific offenses. Naturally, the need for expert counsel becomes even more important at the trial stage and is also essential in order to conduct possible appeals before higher courts, up to the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court, which require a high degree of technical thoroughness that only practitioners specialized in this specific field of law can offer.

Finally, it should be pointed out that in recent times the requirements on companies regarding self-regulation have been steadily increasing, creating the need for legal services provided outside the context of criminal proceedings. On top of economic and reputational risks companies have traditionally faced when it came to criminal matters for which they could be civilly liable, companies are now faced with new sets of risks arising from the introduction of direct criminal liability of legal persons (introduced in Spanish Law in 2010). Consequently, law-abiding companies wishing to avoid or mitigate potential criminal responsibility may find it essential to retain the services of a white-collar crime lawyer to design and implement the required corporate compliance programs or to conduct internal investigations.

J. A. Díaz - Litigación Penal

J. A. Díaz - Litigación Penal logo

Those not acquainted with the peculiarities of Spanish criminal proceedings might be surprised by the existence of the private prosecution: the victim’s own right to bring charges. Thus, in Spain, Criminal Law practitioners not only offer defense counsel to the accused, but can also represent the victim in seeking civil damages ex delicto within the very same criminal proceedings, as well as requesting the imposition of criminal penalties on the defendant (even if contrary to the opinion of the public prosecutor).

The practice of Criminal Law can broadly be divided in two on the basis of the nature of the offenses that counsel is retained to deal with: on one hand non white-collar crime (e.g. theft, robbery, drug related offenses, hate crimes, assaults, sexual assaults, homicides, etc.) and on the other white-collar crime (e.g. fraud, bribery, embezzlement, insider trading, identity theft, money laundering, etc.). Not all Criminal Law lawyers offer counsel on non white-collar crime matters, usually due to their firm’s policy, particularly in firms with multiple areas of practice. Penalties under Spanish Criminal Law range from a fine to imprisonment and in cases of criminal corporate liability may even result in the judicial dissolution of the legal person.

For these reasons it is essential to obtain expert and specialized counsel from the very moment that criminal proceedings are directed against a suspect or conversely, a person is the victim of a crime. The pre-trial investigation phase is conducted by an examining magistrate who is ultimately responsible for ruling between the dismissal of the proceedings or moving forward to trial. Actions undertaken during this pre-trial investigation phase are of paramount importance to the client as they can be instrumental in the examining magistrate decision and affect the imposition of precautionary measures such as the freezing of assets or preventive detention.

Under Spanish law, trials are held before a single judge (other than the one responsible for the pre-trial investigation) or a panel of several judges, depending on the severity of the penalty faced by the defendant. Jury trials are limited to a set number of specific offenses. Naturally, the need for expert counsel becomes even more important at the trial stage and is also essential in order to conduct possible appeals before higher courts, up to the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court, which require a high degree of technical thoroughness that only practitioners specialized in this specific field of law can offer.

Finally, it should be pointed out that in recent times the requirements on companies regarding self-regulation have been steadily increasing, creating the need for legal services provided outside the context of criminal proceedings. On top of economic and reputational risks companies have traditionally faced when it came to criminal matters for which they could be civilly liable, companies are now faced with new sets of risks arising from the introduction of direct criminal liability of legal persons (introduced in Spanish Law in 2010). Consequently, law-abiding companies wishing to avoid or mitigate potential criminal responsibility may find it essential to retain the services of a white-collar crime lawyer to design and implement the required corporate compliance programs or to conduct internal investigations.