What is “sentencia de conformidad” in a criminal case in Spain?

If you are involved in a criminal case in Spain, this is the blog you should read.

What is “sentencia de conformidad”?

Sentencia de Conformidad” is a judicial mechanism that allows the criminal procedure to be terminated prematurely, without the need for an oral trial to be held at Court.

This resolution enables the parties to reach an agreement that contemplates a reduction in the sentence (1/3), in exchange for the accused recognizing the criminal acts and admitting the guilt, in order to avoid carrying out the oral trial at Court.

Which are the requirements for “sentencia de conformidad”?

The procedure, in which the accused’s consent is expressed, must meet a series of requirements for its validity:

  • Express and personal:  It requires an absolute affirmation by the accused. This means that it cannot be granted through a third person, representative or intermediary, even if they are provided with special power.
  • Formal:  It must comply with all the formalities required by law, in each of the procedural moments in which you can express yourself.
  • Free and voluntary: It must be provided freely and voluntarily. In this sense, the accused must have full knowledge of the consequences of his act, the nature of the accusation and the rights he is giving up.
  • Absolute: Conformity extends to both the facts and their legal configuration and to the penalty in its specific nature and measure, without limitation of any kind.

When can we get a “sentencia de conformidad”?

It is good to known that “conformidad” cannot be implemented in all the criminal cases.

It can be only used when in those criminal cases in which the requested criminal penalty is not more than 6 years in prison.

When the case is a “juicio rápido” (“fast trial”), “sentencia de conformidad” can only be reached when the following requirements are met:

  • The accusation must not be more than 3 years in prison.
  • The accusation or the sum of accusations cannot exceed 2 years in prison after reducing them in a third party (1/3).
  • Penalties of another nature may not exceed 10 years.

Which are the advantages of “sentencia de conformidad”?

Generally speaking, by reaching a “sentencia de conformidad” the accused will get a reduction of one third (1/3) of the penalty.

However, Spanish Criminal Law only settles this reduction when the case is a “juicio rápido” (“fast trial”). In the rest of cases, this reduction is not legally stablished, so it will be the defence who will try to obtain a reduction by negotiating with the Public Prosecutor’s Office (“Ministerio Fiscal”) and the private prosecution.

In any case, this reduction of the sentence would make it possible to request a replacement of the sentence or its suspension, as long as the necessary requirements for this were met.

Can a “sentencia de conformidad” be appealed?

“Sentencia de conformidad” has the effect of res judicata (“cosa juzgada”), therefore it cannot be appealable.

The only exception would be when the when the subjective, material and formal requirements demanded by the Law for the validity of the conformity or the terms of the agreement between the parties had not been respected.

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