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"Denuncia, Querella, Demanda": a clarification for the non-legal minds in Spain


These terms, often misused by the media, cause legal professionals some distress. 'Civil complaint' or 'criminal lawsuit' are phrases that lack precision in Spanish Law. The legal nuances matter, and here's a breakdown for everyone.


Law is the set of rules enabling peaceful coexistence among humans. We're surrounded by it, and most follow these norms automatically, maintaining peace. Conflicts arise when rules are broken, and if it involves a criminal offense, a legal process begins with a 'denuncia' or 'querella,' not a 'lawsuit.'


A DENUNCIA informs authorities of a potential crime, initiating the penal process. Anyone can file, but the complainant isn't part of the legal proceedings; they trigger it. No participation in the legal process occurs at this stage.


For active involvement, a QUERELLA is necessary. It demands legal representation and a bond, except for the victim. Sometimes, victims join after denouncing, becoming part of the process.


DEMANDAS are for non-criminal issues, seeking a judge's resolution in various conflicts—divorce, appealing fines, claiming damages, or addressing employment disputes. To sum up: for crimes, it's a denuncia or querella; for everything else, it's a demanda. No need for unnecessary adjectives, especially 'penal' in civil contexts. Let's preserve the dignity of legal terminology.

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