Legal Terms in Spanish

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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.

la ley

the law

la policia


una apostilla

apostille (legal certification or seal)



forma migratoria

immigration form

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


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


¿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 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


el/la acusado/a

the defendant (criminal case)

el/la demandado/a

the defendant (civil case)

el abogado/a

lawyer, attorney

el/la demandante


el/la testigo


el juez


el jurado



una demanda


la audiencia


juicio nulo


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


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


las sanciones, los castigos


el veredicto



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.