How to Denounce and the Procedure When you Present a Formal Accusation?

Note* For civil cases the procedure is different. You should instruct a lawyer who will put your case to the relevant court. This only if there is no possible resolution with the person the claim is made against.

Who can denounce (accuse)?

Anyone who is considered a victim, witness or injured due to an unlawful act or omission (failure to act).
In the case of minors or incapacitated persons, the parents or the Public Prosecutor may lodge a complaint.

What kind of complaints exist?

1. Criminal complaints: These are reports in which the perpetration of a crime or a criminal offence is reported.

2. Administrative complaints: Are those complaints in which you communicate a fact or omission that are contrary to administrative laws.

How do you denounce?

1. In writing, by submitting a written document, which must be signed by the person submitting the accusation, or if the person cannot present the complaint, by another person Who at their request, will sign it. The authority or official who receives it will sign and seal all the pages in the presence of the person who delivers it.

2. Verbally, before an agent of the authority or official who collects the manifestation of the facts reported in writing, signed by the complainant and the authority.

In the two previous cases, the authority or official receiving a verbal or written complaint shall refer to the National Identity Document, or any other document that proves the identity of the person presenting the complaint.

If the person submitting the complaint requests it, a copy will be given to him/her of having formalised the complaint.

Where should the complaint be made?

Before the competent authorities, officials and agents who are in charge of investigating and punishing the allegedly illegal act or omission.

If the facts reported may constitute an alleged crime or misdemeanour (criminal complaint), it may be made in the Court or before the police agents of the place where the criminal act or the place of residence of the complainant took place.

If the facts reported are related to an infraction of the administrative regulations (administrative complaint), it must be presented to the officials of the competent territorial or institutional administration. However, you can also report to the Force or Security Body (Civil Guard, National Police, Autonomous Police or Local Police), competent in the place where the offence was committed or in the place of residence of the complainant.

In the latter case, if from the study of the complaint presented it were seen that the facts could constitute a criminal offence, instead of an administrative one, on the part of the recipients of the complaint, the corresponding proceedings will be drawn up and subsequently sent to the Judicial Authority.

If the infraction is administrative, the complaint will be processed to the administrative authority of the State, of the Communities, or of the Municipalities or to the competent Institutional Administration.

Procedure when someone is denounced.

With the filing of a criminal complaint:

A criminal judicial proceeding is initiated if the denounced act or omission constitutes an alleged crime or a violation contrary to the law.

An administrative complaint may result in:

Opening of reserved information to verify the facts denounced and identify the authors.
Start of an administrative procedure to withdraw an authorisation.

The person who makes an administrative complaint must be given a receipt of the complaint filed by the competent Public Administration and subsequently it must inform if there are motives to initiate an administrative procedure. If a case is opened must communicate this to the complainant.

What are the consequences to formulating a false complaint?

The Criminal Code punishes with imprisonment or a fine those who knowingly make a false complaint, e.g. denounce having been victims of a criminal act or falsely accusing other persons as perpetrators of criminal offences.

The person who has been falsely denounced can in turn, report or complain about insults or slander against the person who made the false report.

Thank you to the Guardia Civil Site for the above information. Translated and edited from the Spanish version.

For police complaints, CAB Spain advises that you use a lawyer. Information and reasons in the link below:


Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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