Article 33


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Administrative sanctions Corporate criminal liability Criminal liability Economic sanctions Human trafficking Proceeds of crime

Article 33 of the Penal Code sets out the penalties to be imposed for the commission of a crime under the Code, and defines the penalties to be considered severe, less severe and minimum penalties (including ancillary penalties).

Section 7 of article 33 sets out the penalties to be imposed on legal entities for the commission of offences under the Criminal Code. Under this section, companies found guilty of a criminal offence face serious fines; suspension of its activities and closure of its retail establishments for up to five years; dissolution of the company; the prohibition from engaging in activities through which the crime was committed, promoted or covered up; and ineligibility to obtain subsidies and public funds, to contract with the public sector, and to receive any tax benefits or incentives from the State for up to fifteen years.


In addition to this, article 177bis also stipulates a specific penalty for corporate bodies found guilty of a human trafficking offence: a fine in the amount of three to five times the profit obtained from the commission of the crime.

The Code exempts companies from criminal liability under the following conditions:

a) the company directors must have adopted a compliance program meeting the legal requirements under Spanish legislation;

b) a body or individual within the company (compliance body) is tasked with the supervision of the program;

c) the company’s officers or employees of the company have committed the crime by intentionally violating the compliance program, and

d) the compliance body did not neglect its duties of supervision, oversight and control. Since the Code requires an effective compliance program, companies will also need to demonstrate that their representatives and employees have received appropriate training.

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Law / 23rd November 1995 / Spain / Spanish Criminal Code

The Spanish Criminal Code provides the criminal law framework in Spain, regulating the different crimes and offences, as well as the associated penalties. The Code criminalises human trafficking, as well as a number of serious offences against the rights of workers, including deceptive recruitment, imposing harmful working conditions on workers, or serious health and safety breaches endangering the health and lives of workers.

Since coming into force, the Criminal Code has been amended on several occassions. The Crime of human trafficking was only included in the Code, and therefore introduced to the Spanish criminal legislation in 2010, with Organic Law No. 4/2000. One of the last amendments, introduced by Organic Law No. 5/2010 of June 22, introduced the principle of criminal liability of legal entities. Previously, it was not possible to hold enterprises and other organisations criminally liable under Spanish legislation.