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My understanding of Spanish Law is as follows:

  • 14 is usually the age of criminal responsibility.

  • Menores de edad from 14 to 18 can only be given a maximum sentence of two years in prison per crime.

What would happen if a 14 year old minor did a serious crime, for example murder, but the police only discovered the crime and arrested the person when they were 26? Would they get two years, or tried as an adult where the sentence is much longer?

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What would happen if a 14 year old minor did a serious crime, for example murder, but the police only discovered the crime and arrested the person when they were 26?

Article 10.1 of Ley Orgánica 5/2000, de 12 de enero provides that the statute of limitations is 5 years or less, depending on the seriousness of crime committed by the minor. In the example you outline, this means that the criminal (now 26 y.o.) would not even be prosecuted because the statute of limitations prescribed --at the latest-- when he was 19 years old.

Would they get two years, or tried as an adult where the sentence is much longer?

If the statute of limitations has not expired, the criminal would be sentenced in accordance to his age at the time he committed the crime regardless of whether or when he is prosecuted. See article 5.3.

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  • Are there exceptions to this five year rule. What about for rape on a child by a menor de edad, I thought Spain started the statute of limitations when the victim reached 30, whereas before it was 18? Sorry for my basic understanding of the Law. – user32707 Jul 29 at 21:30
  • As of June 9, 2020 the modification of statute of limitations for sex crimes was still a draft. I highly doubt it has reached enactment already. Accordingly, it seems premature/speculative to assess whether or not the enactment will replace and supersede in the context of sex crimes the statute of limitations for underage criminals pursuant to Ley Orgánica 5/2000 of January 12th. The latter currently has no provisions to the effect of exceeding the five-year deadline. – Iñaki Viggers Jul 29 at 22:55
  • I think I understand, you are saying this new law which is still a draft would likely not change the Ley Organica? I could not find article 5.4 you mentioned earlier, what is the maximum a menor de edad can be sentenced to for my example? You have been very helpful and given me a lot to write about, thank you. – user32707 Jul 29 at 23:36
  • @mootpoint (1) Rather than saying "likely [not change]", my point is that one possibility is that the upcoming legislation might leave unchanged the statute of limitations for underage criminals. I am not reading the draft, whence I don't know whether the draft addresses this issue at all. (2) I meant to type article 5.3 (i.e., the third item of article 5). I edited the answer accordingly. My apologies for the confusion. (3) Based on the third rule in article 9, the maximum sentence would be two years, confinement being one possible form of "medidas" (see article 7.1.a). – Iñaki Viggers Jul 30 at 9:31
  • At the end of Article 9 it says: "and the sexual assault contemplated in articles 179 and 180 of the Penal Code.". Does this mean that serious things, such as sexual assault on a child, rape of a child, murder and their other examples cause the 14 year old to be considered for 2 years, rather than something softer in Article 9.1 such as four weekends reprimanded? – user32707 Jul 30 at 14:09

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