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What are the penalties for getting into a physical fight in Spain?

The Local Spain
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What are the penalties for getting into a physical fight in Spain?
If an aggressor can be identified, then the legal consequences become more severe. Photo: Mart Production/Unsplash

The legal consequences of getting into a fight in Spain depend on a number of factors including how serious it is, how many people are involved, and who the aggressor was.


Witnessing or being involved in a fight in Spain might be rarer than in your home country. But fights (peleas) do happen, and understanding the law and potential consequences are worthwhile.

This is especially true if you're visiting on holiday and don't speak the language. There are several considerations to make, and several factors that can change the legal consequences of being in a fight in Spain.

Firstly, it depends on whether the aggressor can be determined.


The most common cases where an aggressor can't be reasonably identified are in groups disturbances or brawls (trifulcas). In these sorts of fights it is often very difficult to determine who started it, who was to blame, who were acting as peacemakers, and so on.

However, brawling in Spain is legally defined as a "dangerous" offence and is committed simply by participating in it. That is to say, in Spain you could plausibly be convicted of affray by merely taking part in a public brawl, even if you haven't caused any kind of injury to anyone or started the altercation.

In the eyes of the Spanish law, the key components of the offence are: a group of people (more than two) assaulting each other in such a way that it is not possible to determine who the aggressor is and who the victim is, and that at least one of them (only one is necessary) uses means or instruments capable of causing injury or death.

The penalty under Spain's criminal code for brawling is three months to one year imprisonment or a recurring fine that could last for between six to twenty-four months.

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Assault and battery

If an aggressor can be identified, then the legal consequences become more severe. This is more likely in one-on-one fights.

There are also additional factors to be taken into account here, namely whether either person was reasonably defending themselves, and whether the person allegedly defending himself used a legitimate and justifiable form of self-defence.

If an aggressor can be identified and they are judged to not be using reasonable self-defence, for assaults and battery causing injury the penalty is imprisonment of three months to three years or a recurring fine of six to twelve months.

If the attack results in injuries that endangered life or physical health, or there was overkill or malice during the fight, potential prison sentences can range from two to five years.

And if the result of the fight was death, whether intentional or not, the sentences will vary between 10 and 15 years and 15 to 25 years imprisonment, depending on the circumstances surrounding it.

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Public disorder

Public disorder offences also carry criminal consequences in Spain. These offences include making threats and insults, vandalism, harassment, aggression and intimidation.

According to the Spanish criminal code, those who, acting in a group or individually, disturb the public peace by threatening or acting with violence against people or public property, can be punished with prison sentences of six months to three years.

Public peace in the Spanish legal context can be understood as respect for the conventions and social rules and regulations that facilitate citizens' exercise of their rights; in short, the normal coexistence of people and their right to live their lives peacefully.

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