As the summer season arrives many young people are keen to resume foreign holidays, with Spain being a top choice of destination for many. Unfortunately, as the restrictions of the global pandemic are coming to an end and the borders are reopening, a greater number of people are finding themselves caught in a criminal investigation in Spain and are primarily being arrested on drug charges. At the same time, Spanish courts are in serving paperwork on British nationals in connection with previous court proceedings that were initiated in or around 2018.

If you are facing the risk of court proceedings in Spain we strongly recommend that you take legal advice at your earliest opportunity, in order to protect your position and establish from the outset with your legal team, the strategy of your defence. Our cross-border criminal defence lawyers fully understand the concerns of our clients placed in this position. Our lawyers have extensive experience gained over many years in successfully assisting young people who have found themselves in difficulties with the law in Spain.

Spain has a different approach to drugs than that in the UK as well as a different legal system and as in several European countries, there is more than one type of police force. Spain also has autonomous regions where there may be differences.

The Civil Guard or Guardia Civil is a national police for and enjoys military status.

The National Police Corps or Policia Nacional or Cuerpo Nacional de Policia is the civilian police force that maintains public order and deals with criminal offences.

The Municipal police focuses on crime prevention and minor crime such as traffic offences.

There is also a Special Administrative police are under the Ministry of the Treasury which deals with crimes such as white-collar crime, money laundering and illegal drugs.

Our lawyers recognise that British and other foreign nationals may not be aware of many of the differences between policing and the law in Spain and in their home country and point out that one key factor to remember, should you be confronted by police in Spain, is that if you appear in any way to be difficult or uncooperative, the police officer could decide that you are being disobedient; this is a criminal offence in Spain for which the police officer could arrest you and charge you with a criminal offence unrelated to whatever the initial issue was concerned with.

Early intervention by Giambrone & Partners' English-speaking expert criminal defence team based in Spain could make a significant difference to the eventual outcome of your case.

Gonzalo Butori, a partner predominantly based in London, commented "If you are arrested in Spain you can be detained for 72 hours after which you must be brought before a judge. Depending on the charges the judge will decide whether you are to remain in custody until a trial or allow you to return home pending being recalled to stand trial" Gonzalo further pointed out "if you have been allowed to return home this does not mean it is the end of the matter. If you are summoned to a court in Spain, do not labour under the impression that if you ignore the summons nothing further will happen. Arrest Warrants are still enforceable and you will make your situation considerably worse if you do not address the matter."

There is an extradition treaty between Spain and the UK and if an English judge receives such a request they must make a decision as to whether issue an Arrest Warrant, which will almost certainly be the case.

If you are facing criminal charges Giambrone's highly regarded criminal defence lawyers stress the critical importance of obtaining first-rate legal advice from English-speaking Spanish lawyers at the earliest possible opportunity. This may make all the difference between receiving a custodial prison sentence and a criminal record.

Angel Moncada, a partner, commented "the Spanish authorities are likely to issue an Arrest Warrant if you do not respond to a summons sent to you from a court in Spain. The British police will come to your home and arrest you. You will then be brought before a court in England and Wales and a date will be set for an extradition hearing, where the judge will decide if you are to be extradited." Angel remarked, "if you instruct lawyers at the first opportunity they may find that there may be mitigating circumstances that can be invoked to persuade the judge to deal with the situation differently."

The well-regarded expert lawyers in Giambrone & Partners' criminal defence team have extensive experience in assisting young British nationals who have been arrested in Spain and we have experienced considerable success when assisting our clients by persuading the courts to consider leniency in the circumstances.

Gonzalo Butori has acted in a wide range of international and domestic matters.1202004a.jpg

Gonzalo is recognised for his focus on a successful resolution for his clients as well as his robust capacity when pursuing his clients' best interests. He has assisted in a number of criminal defence cases achieving highly successful results for his clients. He specialises in conflict of laws and jurisdiction.

In addition to being admitted to practice in England & Wales as a Registered Foreign Lawyer (RFL), Gonzalo is admitted in to practice as an Abogado, a Spanish-qualified lawyer in Spain, as well as Avvocato Stabilito in Italy and divides his time between the London, Barcelona and Naples offices.

Angel Moncada is a partner in the litigation team and criminal defence team and is based in the Madrid office.


Angel has a robust approach and vigorously strives to attain the best outcome for his clients drawing on his considerable expertise. Angel is a strategic advocate and frequently is able to persuasively present mitigating circumstances to the court that can change the course of a criminal case.

Angel also advises in.criminal law, often involving complex international and cross-border cases.

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.