Legal Terms in Spanish

You never expect to have run-ins with the law while traveling, however they do happen every now and again. Often times, mix-ups with the law, while visiting foreign countries, come from simple misunderstandings of laws and customs that can easily be resolved with a smile and a sincere apology. However, it’s a good idea to add some basic legal vocabulary and expressions to your Spanish repertoire before you set out. Keep this list handy on your travels as it can help you sound respectful, knowledgeable and cooperative in Spanish when addressing law enforcement.

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Basic Legal Terms for Travelers

la ley

the law

la policia

police

una apostilla

apostille (legal certification or seal)

migración

immigration

forma migratoria

immigration form

el visado (Spain), la visa (Latin America)

visa

mis/tus/sus/nuestros derechos

my/your/their/our rights

una multa por estacionarse mal

parking ticket

una multa por exceso de velocidad

speeding ticket

llegar a un acuerdo

to make/have an agreement

Legal Expressions/Phrases

¿Me permite hablar con un abogado?

Can I speak with a lawyer?

¿Necesito consultar con un abogado?

I need to see a lawyer.

¿Dónde puedo pagar esta multa?

Where can I pay this ticket?

Disculpa, no sabía el límite de velocidad.

My apologies, I didn’t know the speed limit.

Es contra la ley...tirar basura en la calle.

It is against the law...to throw trash in the street.

Disculpe oficial, no sabía.

My apologies officer, I didn’t know.

¿Me muestra su identificación/pasaporte?

Can I see your identification/passport?

Con mucho gusto oficial.

With pleasure/of course officer.

People of the Courtroom

el tribunal/el juzgado

court

el/la acusado/a

the defendant (criminal case)

el/la demandado/a

the defendant (civil case)

el abogado/a

lawyer, attorney

el/la demandante

plaintiff

el/la testigo

witness

el juez

judge

el jurado

jury

Advanced Legal Terms

una demanda

lawsuit

la audiencia

hearing

juicio nulo

mistrial

una orden judicial

a warrant

un reclamo, una reclamación

a claim

la citación judicial

a summons (to appear in court)

la sala del tribunal/del juzgado

courtroom

orden del día del tribunal

docket (the schedule of court cases)

pagar la fianza por alguien

to make/post bail for someone bail

demandar a alguien

to sue somebody

fuera de toda duda razonable

beyond a reasonable doubt

incumplimiento de contrato

breach of contract

una declaración de culpabilidad

plea of guilty

una declaración de inocencia

plea of not-guilty

la libertad condicional/provisional

probation

las sanciones, los castigos

penalties

el veredicto

verdict

absolver

to acquit

Although you never expect to have a run-in with the law when traveling abroad, it is always good to have a handful of legal terms in your back pocket. Further, always remember to spend some time researching the laws and customs of the country you plan to visit to avoid misunderstandings with locals and law enforcement.