1. WHAT IS A EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT?
A European Arrest Warrant is a judicial decision issued by a EU-Member State requesting another EU-Member State to arrest and transfer a person wanted for criminal prosecution or for the execution of a sentence or custodial measure.
The European arrest warrant is established by the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States. In Spain, this Decision is mainly developed in the Law 23/2014 on Mutual Recognition of Criminal Judicial Sentences from EU States.
2. HOW DOES THE PROCEDURE BEGIN IN SPAIN?
The operation of the European arrest warrant process is simple, a EU-Member State searching for a person can make use of institutions such as Interpol and the Schengen Information System. When this person is localized in another EU-Member State, the requesting country berates his/her transfer delivery, for which it issues a Euroopean Arrest Warrant. Upon receipt of the European Arrest Warrant, the second State must arrest the individual. Once the judicial authority has verified the legal conditions are fulfilled and that there is no cause preventing the transfer, the requested person is delivered to the judicial authority of the issuing State.
3. IS THE SAME AS THE EXTRADITION?
No, it is not the same as extradition, both are formulas of international criminal cooperation between countries, however:
The European Arrest Warrant is the instrument used between EU countries, it is more agile than extradition, as it requires much shorter terms. This is mainly due to the fact that no governmental intervention is needed, being involved only the judicial authorities of each State. The procedure is also simplified by creating a single, simple and brief document,
It also reduces the grounds for refusal of enforcement, removing the principle of double criminalityy under certain circumstances.
4. CAN I BE ARRESTED IN MY COUNTRY FOR AN ACT THAT IS A CRIME IN ANOTHER STATE BUT NOT IN MINE?
Yes, it is possible. The European Arrest Warrant eliminates the possibility for the executing State to refuse a delivery due to the facts ot being criminal offences according to its Law, provided that:
1. the requesting country´s Law foresees a penalty consisting of at least 12 months of emprisonment if the person is to face a trial, or at least 4 months whe the person has already been convicted.
2. In the case of the following offenses, provided they are punishable in the issuing Member State with a sentence or a custodial sentence of a maximum of at least three years:
5. WHAT AUTHORITY CAN ISSUE A EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT?
As mentioned before, the competent judicial authority in each country, determined under the law of that State, is the organ issuing European Arrest Warrants.
In Spain, the Central Courts of Instruction (juzgados centrales de instrucción) are responsible for the initiation of the procedure. In case the requested person does not oppose, and neither does, the prosecutor, they can authorize the delivery. Tn the opposite case in which the person does not consent to the delivery or if the prosecutor considers the existence of grounds for refusal or conditioning the delivery, the ultimate decisssion belongs to the Criminal Division of the National Court (Audiencia Nacional).
6. I AM INVOLVED IN A EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT PROCEDURE. SHOULD I WORRY?
Certainly, the situation is serious and it is necessary that you contact asap with a specialized lawyer, especially since the procedure contemplates very short terms and has a great legal complexity.
In practice, most applications Eurowarrant presented are granted. They will only be refused if we are able to prove that any of the circumstances referred in the Law is present. Therefore, the ability and effectiveness of the lawyers leading the case are key success factors.