Many British people travel abroad on holiday and give little thought to the laws and the legal system of the country they are visiting, assuming that everything is probably the same as at home, particularly if they are holidaying in Europe. This can and does, of course, lead to misunderstandings, particularly if there is a language barrier, and it is not at all uncommon for a tourist to be arrested without having a clear idea of the offence.  There can be few experiences that are more upsetting than being arrested with little or no understanding of the situation and no clear way of finding any help.

Giambrone's criminal team Spain point out that many European countries do not tolerate some types of behaviour or dress that is commonplace in the UK, for example, dress codes in the street, in some parts of Spain for example, including Barcelona, it is illegal to wear bikinis or shorts in the street away from the beach.

Nobody goes on holiday expecting to be arrested, however, it could equally be said that the likelihood of having an accident is similarly slender but the vast majority of travellers insure against the possibility.  It would not be an unreasonable precaution to find out something about the laws in the country you are visiting, even if you have visited many times before.  Spain has changed in the law surrounding sexual offences in 2019, significantly increasing the custodial penalties, in response to the case in 2016 known as the "wolf pack case."

Angel Moncada Diaz, a senior associate in the Barcelona office, commented "should you be arrested in Spain it is imperative to that you obtain the services of an English speaking lawyer, this may make the difference between your freedom or imprisonment.  There is an obligation to provide a lawyer that speaks your language but duty lawyer may not have sufficiently good enough English to be of real assistance to you or may not be able to explain to you what is happening." He further pointed out "individuals are often confused and frightened into signing documents that they cannot read. Also, without a full understanding of what is happening it is quite possible that crucial irreversible deadlines may be missed that you are entirely unaware of.  Similarly, the opportunity to challenge your arrest and contest the charges may be missed." 

If you have been permitted to return home it is imperative that you do not worsen your position by your own actions. Ignoring legal summons is the worst thing to do, at present European arrest warrants are still in force, hoping that nothing will happen is not an option and will only harm your position. 

Giambrone's criminal lawyers can assist you even if you find yourself embroiled in a difficult situation which is already underway. It may be possible to introduce mitigating circumstances or alternatively there may be breaches of procedure which can be leveraged.   The expertise of an experienced criminal lawyer will guide you as to the best way to proceed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.