SLEEPING in a cell for a couple of nights is not a pleasant experience, whichever way you look at it.

When this happens, however, there is still controversy in Spain as to whether a lawyer can actively participate in police station interrogations, as we often see in American films.

Spanish Criminal Procedural laws establish that a lawyer can be present, at the request of the detainee, when they are being informed of the charges leading to his detention and when being read his rights (among others, the right of foreigners to contact their Consulate).

It is generally not allowed, however, for a lawyer to provide counsel at the time of arrest.
Where the police conduct inquiries with the detainee, a lawyer is to be present and according to article 520.6 c) of the Criminal Procedure Act, is allowed ‘a reserved conversation with his detainee’.

It is this last point that has been a bone of contention between law societies and police forces, across the country, once again due to an imprecise wording of the law.

According to the police, current laws do not envisage a prior interview between the lawyer and the detainee; law societies, and some judges, however, express their opposition by stating that lawyers cannot be a ‘convidado de piedra’ – or a stone guest – in the sense of Pushkin’s poetic drama.

Once again, the result of the lawmaker’s poor legal drafting.

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