Noone wants to thing about being the victim of a crime, no matter how big or small. But unfortunately, crime is a fact of live in Spain, just as it is in every other country in the world. From property break ins to stolen mobile phones, witnessing crime or being a victim of one, there may well come a time where you need to report and file a police report during your time in Spain. Here we will explain everything you need to know, to make the process go as smoothly as possible:
Understanding the Denuncia
A Denuncia is a private crime report, or statement that you make to a law enforcement agency. Whilst most denuncia’s are filed by individuals, they can also be filed by and against companies or other legal entities. There are two types of denuncia, which are:-
- A criminal complaint or 'denuncia penales'
- An administrative complaint or 'denuncias administrativas'
The one that you are most likely to have to deal with is a denuncia penales: a crime report, generally in the case of a non-violent or petty crime. The good news is that filing a denuncia is surprisingly simple: you don’t have to speak Spanish, be a legal expert, or even be sure that you have been the victim of a crime! To give you an idea of the circumstances that might lead you to file a denuncia, here is a non-comprehensive list of examples:
- Lost or stolen personal belongings
- Theft from a vehicle
- Stolen vehicle
- Criminal damage
- Violent or non-violent crime
- Finding an item of lost property
How to File a Denuncia
Now that you’ve established that filing a denuncia is the right option for you (or not), you’ll need to know how to go about it. Unlike many other legal processes, you don’t need to consult a lawyer first: in fact, you don’t even need to go to a police station if you don’t want to! There are three different ways to file a denuncia:
- Online. This is probably the fastest and easiest way to file your report. You can do so by clicking the following link.
- On the Phone. You can report a crime on the phone, simply by calling your local police station. You can find the number of the nearest police station here. Be aware that, if you don’t speak Spanish, you should call the English-speaking number created specifically for tourists, which is 902 102112.
- In Person. You can report a crime simply by walking into any police station. If you don’t speak Spanish, you may need to take a translator with you. Certain crimes, such as violent or sexual crimes, can only be reported in person at a police station. Crimes that are reported in person will also take priority over those that are reported online or over the phone.
What Happens Next?
What you need to do after your denuncia has been submitted will depend on how you choose to submit it. If you have completed your denuncia in person then you don’t need to do anything else. If you choose to complete the form online then you will be given a reference number and then asked to select your nearest Comisaria police station and visit that station within 48 hours. This is important: if you don’t visit the police station and sign the denuncia then the report does not officially exist. This is also important for insurance purposes, as most insurance companies will require proof that a theft has occurred before you can make a claim.
Having a Denuncia Made Against You
Whilst the focus of this piece is on how to file a denuncia, it is possible that you could also have a denuncia made against you. There are many reasons why this could be the case: a noise complaint from a neighbour, for example. But, as a general rule, this is nothing to worry about. Issuing denuncias is a common practice in Spain and the process is, to a degree, abused in the country.
If you do find yourself issued a denuncia, you will receive this in writing (either from the local police station or town hall) and then you will be expected to respond to it. You will be given a time frame for this response, usually 14 days. This will give you the opportunity to put your side of the story across. As a general rule, there is a good chance that nothing will come of it, unless the denuncia being brought against you is something more serious, in which case it will be put before a public prosecutor to determine whether it should be brought before a court. But it’s important to remember that it is highly unlikely that a denuncia will be made against you, and that the system is largely there to protect victims of crime, rather than to be used in the case of petty disputes.
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