Updated: Feb 20, 2020
Living in Spain is a beautiful experience, especially in the southern Alicante region, where the weather is great mostly all year round and the people are inviting. You enjoy a Mediterranean diet and get enough vitamin D to serve you a lifetime! You make sure you speak good Spanish to get by, but when it comes to legal procedures or dealing with the police, there are a few things to consider.
Misunderstandings, especially with the Police, are common but can have grave consequences.
I would like to give you an example from the Court. Of course, there will be no names, nor locations, nor specific identifiable details in order to fulfill data protection and obligations to the Courts.
On late-night, husband and wife have a misunderstanding, mainly because the husband cannot find his keys. To get his wife's attention he knocks on the window with an object and the window breaks. According to the husband, this is where she told him where is keys were and he went home.
The neighbourhood security guard is alerted by the noise and calls the police. The attending officers speak Spanish, of course, and one of them understands "some" English.
The wife has an injury on her eye, caused when she fell two days prior to this incident. The eye is not swollen shut, but rather already presenting the typical colouration (yellow, brown) of when it starts to bruise after a few days following the impact.
When the police talks to her, she is nervous and distraught (remember, she had a discussion with her husband and the window broke). When asked about her eye, she initially says it was caused by an accident a couple of days before. Later, however, when the police asked again if she wanted to present a police report and go to the doctors, she said yes and, as the officers understand, claims the aggression was caused by her husband, and it not being the first time.
You see here the consequences of these claims.
1. If she says it was caused because of a fall a few days before, there are no legal consequences for her husband (other than replacing a window).
2. If she says he attacked her, there will be legal, possibly criminal, consequences for her husband.
So what happened? What is the true version?
Once at Court, the lady did not want to press charges and said her husband never hurt her.
So, whether this is true or not, the consequences are still being caused by her initial claim made to the police because, even if she does not want to proceed with any claims against her husband, the prosecution might simply not believe her now, and take it further resulting, perhaps, in a jail or community work sentence, a fine and/or restraining order.
So, what is to be done in such a case?
When speaking to the police because of an incident that either you or somebody else called in, you need to make absolutely sure that what you say is correctly understood and cannot lead to unwanted legal consequences. If you feel that the police cannot understand you fully and you do not feel confident enough soeaking Spanish, ask them for a translator/interpreter. Do NOT say anything that may be wrong or could lead to misinterpretation! The police will provide you with an interpreter. If, for whatever reasons, they do not have access to an interpreter, have one on SPEED DIAL.
The applicable proverb here is, better safe than sorry. A misunderstanding can lead to a grave outcome or, on the other hand, could lead to no action when action is actually more than required.
BE UNDERSTOOD! YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO AN INTERPRETER WHEN DEALING WITH POLICE AND THE COURT IN THE VALENCIAN COMMUNITY!