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In the Spanish criminal jurisdictional order, the State institutions intervene to punish the commission of those acts that the Penal Code contemplates as crimes (serious criminal acts) or minor crimes (less serious than the previous ones).

The State has exclusive power to impose penalties, that is, it is the only one that has the capacity to decide what acts deserve to be punished and what is the penalty or security measure that corresponds to it, always bearing in mind the Principle of Minimum Intervention of Criminal Law. , according to which it should only be used for the protection of the most important legal assets and against attacks of sufficient importance.

In Spanish Criminal Law, the Principle of Legality governs, which imposes obvious limits on this sanctioning power of the State, and which translates into the fact that:

  • it is necessary that both the crime and the penalty or security measure be contemplated in a law issued prior to the events that take place,

  • the accreditation of the facts and the penalty or security measure to be imposed are decided in a sentence issued by the competent judge and within a legally established process,

  • the execution of the penalty or security measure is adjusted also as provided in the regulations.

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