New Criminal Law

On the 23rd December 2010, the new reformed Penal Code will come into force. The new modifications are designed to provide new devices for fighting town planning and organised crime. 150 law articles are being updated, both in term of types of crimes and types of sanctions. In general sanctions and punishments will be more severe.

The major new change is the introduction in Spain of criminal liability for Legal Entities. ‘Legal Entity’ is a juridical term for companies, cooperatives, business associations, corporations and municipalities.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the major changes.

Criminal liability for Legal Entities.
In practice according to the magnitude and the type of crimes, the sanctions will be targeted at the company, as well as the company managers or the employees committing the crimes. Responsibility will be extended to the managers who do not enforce control measures to prevent the crimes.
Even though penal responsibilities of individuals and legal entities will be mostly related, they will be treated independently, leading to cases where perhaps the legal entity is considered responsible while the individuals are absolved.

For these crimes sanctions for individuals can include prison sentences and fines. For the Legal Entities apart from fines, the sanctions can range from the exclusions from contracts with the public administration to the dissolution of the entity.

Corruption between persons in the private sector and in international commerce.
This new law is an almost direct transcription of a new European Union law to fight international corruption with the objective to make the EU market more fair and competitive. Both bribers and recipients of the bribe will be punished.

More severe general sanctions for corruption, town planning crimes. and tax evasion in Spain
There will be up to four years of prison for illegal construction both for the promoter and for the officials that allow them, increased sanctions for bribery cases, plus fines and the disqualification from public functions.

Harder punishments for terrorists and sexual abusers.
Apart from harder sentences, there will also be sentence extensions with house arrests for up to then years, along with closer follow-ups. The measures are particularly tough with sexual abusers on minors.

Illegal copyrighted sales, squatters and graffiti.
For low volume sellers of illegal DVD’s and other counterfeits prison is replaced with fines or forced public service. Graffiti will be punished with house arrest for up to seven days or forced public service. Squatters will be punished with prison replacing the present fines.

Traffic laws
Speeding at more than 60km/h than the limit on urban roads or more than 80km/h on interurban roads will be sanctioned with prison between six to tweleve months, permanent confiscation of the vehicle or forced public service.

Human trafficking and slavery.
The punishment will be very hard for human traffickers; particularly the law will better protect women and children soldiers.

Changes in the sanctions.
There will be a more general introduction of house arrest and controlled freedom, with the objective of preventing the social psychological problems generated by prison terms. Recidivism will be considered a major aggravation.

The list above gives a synopsis of the most important changes that will affect as well companies and businesses. Your Spanish lawyer will be able to advise you and help you to prepare your company regarding these new laws.

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