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The reviewable permanent prison sentence in Spain

By means of Organic Law 1/2015, the Spanish Penal Code was modified to introduce a new penalty under the name of "permanent reviewable prison", which basically allows periods of suspension of probation and suppresses the possibility of early review of probation for certain serious crimes.

Therefore, the reviewable permanent prison sentence can be imposed only in exceptionally serious crimes: especially serious murders, terrorism, homicide of the head of state or his heir, of foreign heads of state and in the most serious cases of genocide or crimes against humanity.

The first case of reviewable permanent imprisonment is established in article 140 of the Spanish Penal Code for murder cases and in said precept the cases for its application are established.

Specifically, a series of circumstances are collected that, if involved in a murder, will empower the prosecuting body to impose a reviewable permanent prison sentence. Such circumstances are:

  • Circumstances that refer to the age or condition of the victim: that the victim is under 16 years of age or is especially vulnerable;

  • Circumstances that refer to other crimes that are committed: that the person proceed to be murdered after having been sexually assaulted;

  • Circumstances that refer to the author of the facts: that he belongs to a criminal group or organization.

If the murder of a person occurs and also one of these three circumstances occurs, the judge will impose the reviewable permanent prison. Likewise, in the case of multiple murders, article 140.2 also provides for reviewable permanent imprisonment.

But there are other lesser-known cases of reviewable permanent imprisonment in the Spanish Penal Code:

  • In the first place, the assassinations Article 485 (imposes reviewable permanent prison on whoever kills the King, Queen, Prince or Princess of Asturias) and Article 605 CP (imposes reviewable permanent prison on whoever kills a foreign Head of State or another person protected by international treaties).

  • In second place in the crime of genocide Articles 607 and 607 bis. In the latter we find the only exception in which permanent reviewable imprisonment is possible in cases of sexual assault and serious injuries without crimes against life.

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