The Supreme Court applies the 'Juana Rivas doctrine' and lowers the sentence of a couple who abducted their three children

The Supreme Court applies the 'Juana Rivas doctrine' and lowers the sentence of a couple who abducted their three children

The Supreme Court has applied the doctrine arising from the case of Juana rivas and it has lowered the sentence imposed on a couple from Valladolid for hiding their three children for several days after taking them from a juvenile center in Valladolid. The judges of the Criminal Chamber, with one of the magistrates against, understand that they should be convicted of a single crime of child abduction even if they took three children and reduced their prison sentences of one year and a half to six months . In this case, as in that of Rivas, the Prosecutor's Office went from defending a position in Castilla y León to defending the opposite before the Supreme Court.

The events, according to the judgment of the High Court to which has had access, occurred in Valladolid in March 2019. The Junta de Castilla y León, through the Social Services Management of the Family Ministry, had declared the three minors in a situation of helplessness, assumed their guardianship and ordered their admission to a center for minors in the city. The parents came two days later to deliver a family book and took the three minors taking advantage of the fact that the person who was caring for them had come to make some photocopies.

The abduction lasted just under two days. The events were denounced and the defendants turned the three children over to the Civil Guard when the agents went to their home to request their return to the city center for minors. The case came before the Justice and was sentenced by a Valladolid criminal court that same year with the judge imposing six-month sentences on both parents for a single crime of child abduction.

This first sentence was handed down more than a year after a Granada court convicted Juana Rivas for the abduction of her two minor children but applying a different doctrine: she was convicted of two crimes, one for each child, to a total of five years in prison.

In the case of Castilla y León, the parents acknowledged the facts but assured that they did not know that the children were protected by the Board and that, in addition, the children complained that they were not fed and that they were beaten in the center. The court was forceful when saying in his sentence: "None of this is accredited". He also explained that sentence that they should be convicted of a single crime: "We find ourselves with a natural unit of action. It does not matter if the abduction affects one or more minors," said the first sentence.

The case ran parallel to that of Juana Rivas. A few months before this first six-month sentence for a single crime, the Granada audience it confirmed that Maracena's mother had to be convicted of two crimes. Meanwhile, the Prosecutor's Office in Valladolid appealed the case before the Provincial Court and this, assuming its criteria, tripled the sentences of this couple. "There were three injurious results, as there were three taxpayers with very personal and therefore individual legal assets injured," said that second sentence:.

The judges of the Court of Valladolid therefore upheld the appeal of the Prosecutor's Office and understood that they should be sentenced to triple jail time, one crime for each of their three abducted children. From six months to a year and a half in prison. But in this case, as in that of Juana Rivas, the Public Ministry changed its criteria when the convicted persons took the case before the Supreme Court and went from supporting the theory of the two crimes to supporting the theory of a single crime even though there were several minors involved.

The result is that the Criminal Chamber, with magistrate Andrés Palomo as rapporteur, has applied the doctrine established in the Juana Rivas sentence and has left things as the Valladolid court sentenced them: a sentence of half a year in prison for each of the parents for a single crime of child abduction. The High Court Prosecutor's Office, at this point, was clear in announcing that it supported the motives of both remedies without questioning his guilt but requesting a drastic reduction in his sentence.

The resolution of the Supreme Court that this newspaper has been able to examine is limited to citing the most relevant passages of the judgment that it passed on the case of Juana Rivas in april of this year with the same magistrate rapporteur. For example, when it concludes that the crime of abductions serves the best interests of the minor but not their personal property. The objective of the Penal Code, according to the Supreme Court, is "that its determination be channeled through the established legal channels; formal protection of the right of custody by whoever actually exercises it with an apparently valid title."

The Supreme Court already said in this ruling that the "most convincing" solution is to convict a single crime even though there are several minors affected by the abduction. In the case of Rivas, as in that of these parents from Valladolid, the Prosecutor's Office changed its criteria when the matter was brought before the Second Chamber and went from requesting sentences of five years for Maracena's mother for two crimes to requesting the reduction of the penalty in half for a single offense. In the case of this couple, their conviction does not imply the loss of parental authority, although at the time of the events their three children were under the guardianship of the Junta de Castilla y León.

The case of this couple from Valladolid shows that the Supreme Court's decision on Juana Rivas and other similar cases was not unanimously liked in the Criminal Chamber. In that case there were two magistrates who voted against and in this case one of them, Leopoldo Puente, casts a private vote. He anticipates, yes, that this will be the last one presented in cases of this style. "Announcement since I will not do it," says the magistrate in his private vote, one of the last to join the Second Chamber.

The particular opinion written by him and by Javier Hernández in the case of Juana Rivas is now reproduced in this case of Valladolid: "Yes, as we believe, the legal right to protect is the right to private and family life of minors, of each of the minors, the consequence is that (...) there will be as many crimes in real competition as minors have been affected. "


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