As the holiday season gets underway a considerable number of British citizens will make their way to Spain to enjoy the sun and nightlife. There is an increasing desire by both residents and the police to rein in the unruly behaviour frequently exhibited by tourists under the influence of alcohol. Laws have been enacted In the Balearic Islands whereby alcohol can only be purchased when dining and there is a limitation on the number of drinks permitted to be bought and consumed to just three at lunchtime and three with dinner.

Also, in order to attempt to prevent of the consumption of alcoholic beverages by children and adolescents, another law was enacted to prohibit establishments from selling alcohol between the hours 10.00 p.m. and 9.00 a.m. the following day, if it is intended to be consumed off the premises instead of immediate consumption on the premises.

The experienced lawyers in Giambrone & Partners' criminal defence teams have considerable capability in advising clients that have been arrested in Spain. Our lawyers warn that tourists that visit Spain often have no knowledge of the laws that impact on behaviour in public, such as that alcohol may not be consumed in the street or on public transport.

Gabriela Gonzalez-Cremona, a senior associate in the Barcelona office, pointed out "there is no tolerance of alcohol induced bad behaviour and perpetrators are far more likely to be arrested for offences against authority or assault and resistance against the police when a drunken argument erupts." Gabriela further stated, "offences against authority figures such as the police – atentado contra la autoridad – outlined in the Spanish Penal Code (listed below) are considered to be serious offences and can attract a significant fine. In some cases, drunk people become violent, and fights take place in the street, bars, or nightclubs that can cause serious injuries, which will lead the person to jail."

In a recent altercation in Ibiza, reported in the Daily Mail, Jade Jagger, daughter of Sir Mick Jagger, and Anthony Hickson were evicted from a restaurant for insulting staff when they were not permitted to have any more alcohol. Mr. Hickson subsequently drunkenly pestered passers-by and staff in a near-by shop. When he returned to the restaurant his behaviour prompted the staff to call the police. Unfortunatley, Mr. Hickson continued to behave badly and when the police arrived and he was arrested. Ms. Jagger also added to the situation by insulting and attacking the police which resulted in her arrest as well.

Ms. Jagger is now facing a private prosecution due to a physical attack on a woman police officer. SUP, the Union of Police (Sindicato Unificado de Policía), that represents the interests of police officers in Spain and has strongly indicated that it will seek the full force of the law in an effort to demonstrate that assaults on the police will not go unpunished.

Offences related to "atentado contra la autoridad" are outlined in Articles 550 to 556 of the Spanish Penal Code, below are the key provisions:

  • Article 550: Resistance and disobedience to authority figures: This article criminalises resisting or disobedience towards law enforcement officers, security forces, or other public officials while they are exercising their duties.
  • Article 551: Serious disobedience or resistance: This article covers situations where resistance or disobedience causes injury to the authority figure or results in a situation of danger, such as the use of violence, intimidation, or force.
  • Article 552: Aggravated offences against authority: This article applies where the offence involves serious aggression, causing injury, or endangering the life where the offender uses weapons or objects as weapons.
  • Article 556: Attacks on law enforcement officials: This article deals with situations where an individual assaults, injures, or threatens a law enforcement official while the officer is performing their duties, causing harm or putting the officer's life or physical integrity at risk.

Gabriela Gonzalez-Cremona has been a member of the Barcelona Bar Association since 1990. She has a wide range of expertise in civil and criminal law and specialises in criminal defence. She has successfully defended foreign nationals that have been arrested in Spain and can provide initial assistance when an individual is taken into custody and ensure that their rights are maintained. She is a member of the European Association of Economic Interest which collaborates between law firm across Europe to assist foreign nationals who visit or reside in Spain.

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