Legal briefing

Information Briefing: Timeframes for criminal investigations following the lifting of the state of alarm


Royal Decree 463/2020, of 14 March, provided for the suspension of procedural time limits.

Subsequently, Royal Decree-law 16/2020 of 28 April, on procedural and organisational measures to address COVID-19 in the field of the administration of justice (“RDL 16/2020”), established that the suspended procedural time limits will be recalculated from their commencement2, starting from the business day immediately following the end of the state of alarm.

In light of the above, on 29 April 2020, the General Public Prosecutor’s Office published a report entitled “Time limits and procedural terms, article 324 of the CPL and remote notifications to the Public Prosecutor”. In this report, the General Public Prosecutor’s Office states that the recalculation of procedural time limits is also applicable to the time limits established for the investigative stage of criminal proceedings.

Currently, the Spanish Criminal Procedural Law (“CPL”) provides for a maximum time limit for conducting criminal investigations. This maximum period is (i) generally, six months; (ii) in cases in which the investigation is declared to be complex, eighteen months, which may be extended to three years; and (iii) exceptionally, a new maximum period may be set for the completion of the investigation3. The period runs from the date upon which criminal proceedings formally begin and, once the time limit expires, no further investigative actions may be ordered.

The entire content of the Information Briefing can be found in the PDF.

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COVID-19 State of Alarm

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