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Parot Doctrine, Principle of Legality, and Jurisprudence in Spain: A Legal Analysis

In the Spanish legal framework, the Parot Doctrine and the principle of legality have been crucial topics that have impacted the penal system and the interpretation of laws. Below, we will explore these key concepts and their relevance in the Spanish legal context.

Parot Doctrine:

The Parot Doctrine originated in Spain as a jurisprudential interpretation that affected individuals convicted of serious crimes, such as terrorism or murder, who had served their sentences prior to the 2006 legal reform. This doctrine established that penitentiary benefits should be applied to the total of accumulated sentences, rather than the maximum 30-year limit of sentence fulfillment. As a result, some inmates ended up spending more time in prison than originally expected.

Principle of Legality:

The principle of legality is fundamental in criminal law and states that no one can be convicted of a crime that is not expressly defined as such by the law. Furthermore, penalties and sanctions must be previously established by the law. This ensures that criminal laws are clear and predictable, preventing the retroactive application of the law to harm an individual.


In this context, the principle of irretroactivity plays a vital role. It prohibits the retroactive application of criminal laws that may harm the accused. In the case of the Parot Doctrine, questions were raised about whether its retroactive application violated this principle, leading to case reviews and the release of some prisoners following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 2013.

Jurisprudence in Spain:

Unlike legal systems such as the Anglo-Saxon system, jurisprudence is not considered a formal source of law in Spain. Spanish law is primarily based on statutes and the Constitution. While jurisprudence is influential and used as an interpretative guide, it cannot modify existing legislation. Nevertheless, it plays an important role in interpreting the law in specific cases and in judicial decision-making.

In summary, the Parot Doctrine and the principle of legality are essential elements of the Spanish legal system that have sparked debates and had a significant impact on the interpretation and application of the law in specific situations. Additionally, it is important to note that, despite its relevance, jurisprudence does not have the same authority as written laws in the Spanish legal system.

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