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Watch out!: be careful with waiving the right to a compensation as a victim of a crime in Spain

In Spanish Criminal Law, on the one hand, there is criminal reproach (the penalty understood by all: fine, deprivation of liberty, work for the benefit of the community, etc.) and on the other, civil liability, that is, compensation or economic reparation for the damages suffered by the victim and caused and derived from the action deserving of that criminal reproach. Examples of compensation (Civil Liability): The repair of the car that has been destroyed in a crime of damages, or the restitution of the stolen object and the invoice amount of the locksmith in a robbery with force. Or compensation for the days spent in the hospital and in recovery after an assault.

Let's see what could happen in the waiver of a civil liability by the victim of a crime in Spain and the feeling of injustice that this causes at the end of the procedure with a typical example: the crime of assault.

Facts of the case: on a Saturday night in a place of entertainment there's a fight between two subjects with no prior records (let's call them number 1 and number 2), 1 goes to the emergency room and reports it later to the Police Station or Court to report it, nothing is known about 2. At that moment, at the police station, they ask 1 if he wishes to be compensated for these damages. He has a bloody shirt, a pain in his head and a couple of bruises, a rib hurts but nothing is broken, he thinks at the spot that it will be a small thing and decides to resign because he does not do this to earn money but so that it doesn't happen to anyone else and the other subject learns the lesson. But while 2, who is in the same state but with a tooth that hurts after the fight, he receives a call from the police station and says that it was not as 1 told them and that he is the one attacked who has also just left the doctor and that he has an appointment with the dentist. Then 2 denounces 1 and says when asked how is he going to waive compensation if he has disfigured his face. Both subjects are recognized by the forensic doctor of the court. Both are proven to have injuries. After the trial, it is easy for both to end up with the same penalty or criminal reproach: Penalty of 6 months in prison that will be suspended as long as they do not commit crimes within a period of 2 years for 1 and 2.

But when it comes to compensation, the differences come to Compensation (Civil Liability): Number 1, he gets nothing because he waived his right to a compensation. But he will have to pay B his indemnity. Number 2, he therefore will receive €1900:

  • First, 1,000 Euros for 20 days of recovery documented by the forensic doctor's report.

  • Secondly: €900 for dental treatment according to the invoice from his dentist.

Remember, number 2 won't have to pay anything to 1 because number 1 waived his right to indemnity. In addition, in order for number 1 to have his prison sentence suspended, he must pay or ask for a few installments to pay those €1,900 and for number 2 it will only depend on the Judge. Therefore, even if it is late and you just want to get out of there, think very carefully before giving up your rights because that could have, and as we have seen it does have, consequences. It is always best to have a specialized lawyer on your side to avoid or minimize these risks.

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