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How to make a denuncia 

A Denuncia is the procedure used to alert the authorities that you have witnessed a crime or a breach of civil law.

The interesting point is that by law, everyone is obliged to report that they have witnessed a crime, even if they are not actually the victim. A typical example of a criminal breach would be to witness an act of criminal damage which the property owner may not have witnessed personally. Examples of civil denuncias include denouncing a neighbour for building on his property without a proper licence, or denouncing the community on your complex for not complying with a legal regulation or procedure.

Denuncias can be presented to the relevant police authority (Guardia Civil, Policia Nacional, Policia Local) or in the case of a criminal offence, it can also be presented directly to the criminal court local to where the offence took place.

Denuncias are best presented in writing, whereby a copy can be stamped and returned to you as a receipt. If the authorities consider the allegations to be serious enough to warrant an investigation, the police may look into the matter further, or it may be referred to a local Judge to decide what additional steps need to be taken.

If the denuncia is serious enough to be followed up, then the person or organisation you have denounced (el denunciado) is given notice of the denuncia and must make a statement in response. Even if they deny the allegation, an investigation may proceed to determine whether or not a crime has actually been committed. The victim must also clarify whether he or she actually wishes to ‘press charges’ via a private prosecution that he or she will control, or whether to leave the matter in the hands of the public prosecutor. Either way, the matter will proceed to either a dismissal of the allegations or the bringing of a formal charge.