Prosecution – Spain

1. Crimes
2. Making a Police Statement
3. After Questioning

This section refers to situations, when migrant sex workers are subjected to criminal investigations: if, for example, in a raid, police pick up a migrant sex worker who has no residency permit and/or no work permit, they will initiate an enquiry against her in respect to immigration offences. Criminal proceedings will also be initiated if the woman has committed an offence/a crime in another matter. In these cases, the woman is an accused party.
Please note:
When we use the term “crime”, we mean infringements of penal law. When we use the term “offence”, we mean infringements of administrative law if there are sanctions attached to it.


1. Crimes

In Spain, working as a prostitute or a sex worker in itself is not punishable, since this kind of work is simply not recognized.
Please note:
This does not mean that sex work is an approved kind of work. On the contrary, it is considered to be a contravention of public morality.
It is, however, an offence to work without an adequate work permit, which can give rise to an administrative enquiry against the woman.

2. Making a Police Statement

A. Right to Remain Silent

When a woman who is suspected of having committed a crime is interrogated by the police, she has the right to remain silent. Even in answering questions about other people, she need not say anything which might incriminate herself.

B. Translator

If the accused woman is not Spanish or is no native speaker, she is entitled to the services of an interpreter during the interrogation. Should she not trust the interpreter who is provided, she is entitled to refuse him/her and demand someone else.

C. Lawyer

The accused can also choose to answer questions only in the presence of her lawyer; she is entitled to demand his/her presence during the interrogation.
Hint: Memorise a lawyer’s telephone number!

D. Custody

The accused woman can be held in police custody. The police custody may not last for more than the necessary time for the investigation of the events that are under discussion. It may not last any longer than 72 hours, even if the investigations are not finished by then.

If a woman is kept in custody, she should always make contact with a lawyer and/or and advisory centre for legal support.

E. Victims of Trafficking in Women

The woman may not only be accused, but also be a victim or a witness of other, more serious crimes, such as trafficking in women or rape.
Should this be the case, she should insist that police make contact to an advisory centre.
Criminal proceedings against the woman because of the crime she herself is accused of will not be halted, though.

3. After Questioning

A. Immigration Offences

The consequences of having allegedly committed administrative offences vary. They depend on the seriousness of the infringement and could be

  • a fine,
  • expulsion or
  • detention for deportation.

Infringements that can give way to expulsion are illegal stay or working without a residence permit. Working without a work permit may only give way to an expulsion if the woman also lacks the necessary residence permit. Therefore, working without a work permit but with a residence permit will be sanctioned only with a fine.


B. Crimes

If a woman has allegedly committed other crimes, the usual consequence is penal proceedings. This means that, after the police has investigated the events in question, and considers them to constitute a crime, the case is proceeded to a judge.

If a sentence is passed, the woman may lose her right to residency; this depends on the severity of the sentence and the type of residence permit.

The consequence of a loss of the right to residence could be expulsion. This depends on the severity of the punishment.

The woman will be expelled from the country if she has been condemned in or out of Spain for a fraudulent behaviour that constitutes a crime in Spain and if she has been sanctioned with imprisonment for more than a year. If this previous criminal record has been cancelled, there will be no expulsion.

If investigation proceedings are initiated against the woman, she should always seek legal advice with a lawyer!
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