If you are arrested in Benidorm the police must tell you why – and they must explain your rights. If you don’t understand Spanish, you can insist on having a translator present.
Under Spanish law you must be formally charged within 72 hours – or released. You are likely to be held in a police cell until a formal statement answering the charges can be taken. This formal statement will form the basis of the next stage – The police will formally present your case in court, and the court will decide whether or not to pursue your case.
There must be a lawyer (and translator if you need one) present when your statement is taken and when you go to court. If you can’t afford one, a local bar-association lawyer will be provided – but this lawyer is only there to ensure that your rights are observed – he/she cannot help you to prepare a defence against any charges.
So it is a good idea to get a proper defence lawyer involved as soon as possible. The best way to find a lawyer is via the British Consular Office. You should call 902 102 112 and ask for the British Consulate office in Alicante. The Consulate office can help with translators, and can help you find a lawyer. Legal aid is available if you cannot afford to pay for your defence.
Under the terms of the UK-Spain Convention the Police should (with your permission) inform the British Consulate of your arrest. But this may not happen as quickly as it should – so do it yourself or get a friend to do it for you. The consular office will provide assistance as soon as possible after receiving notification.
In Spain, once you have been formally charged, you could be held on remand for up to four years while the prosecution prepares its case against you! So be careful what you say without a proper lawyer and translator present.
Get the British Consulate involved as soon as possible.
They act in strict confidence and they will not inform anybody of your arrest unless you ask them to. They will also ensure that your rights are observed, and that you fully understand what is going on.
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