By JUAN DE JESÚS BREENE
Few people in Mexico — especially foreigners — are aware of a very inexpensive legal document that could be a godsend for those situations when you suspect that something might go astray in the future.
For example: “I’ve paid my rent, but my landlord hasn’t given me a receipt.” “My car’s front license plate was stolen on such-and-such a date.” “My employer said I was late for work, sent me home, docked me a day’s wages, but I arrived on time.” “My mother-in-law took my two children, without my permission on X date and time.” “The building administrator of my condominium locked me out of my apartment; the locks appear to have been changed.” “On a specific date and time, my neighbor threatened me with X.” “My maid stopped working without notice and I fear she is going to claim unpaid wages in the future.” “The business next to my house produces noise beyond the permitted level.” “Construction is taking place without a permit.” “Someone has taken over the street in front of my house.”
The list of potential situations is endless.
For the many situations where you want to avoid a “he said-she said” situation, there is a legal document that allows you to formally chronicle what took place. Rather than getting into verbal or physical confrontations, consider this handy legal remedy, a documentation of events.
You can think of this document, called a “Constancia de Hechos, ” as a way to build your case. should the situation accelerate in the future.
Think about those situations where you say to yourself, “This might come back to haunt me.” That is when you want to enact this legal recourse.
For just 14 pesos, and a little of your time (okay, this is Mexico, and we are talking about bureaucracy, so maybe a little more than a little of your time), your side of the story is forever recorded in a legal document that a judge in the future must accept should your worst nightmare come to pass.
It does not mean that the other party cannot later contest your side of the story, but it means you will have a legal record of your version of the matter, should the incident come up in the future.
A Constancia de Hechos is a judge-certified legal brief.
While different states have different procedures, in Mexico City, it is quite simple.
You request this document in person at any Juzgado Cívico, a civil justice courthouse open 24 hours a day. There are about 110 in Mexico City, and you do not need to go to the one closest to your residence.
While most lawyers will want to charge you thousands of pesos to help you through this process, in fact, a lawyer is not needed.
The process is much quicker if you have what you want to share written out. If there are photos or other evidence to be included, the judge will allow them to be imported if you bring them on a USB.
The judge will wordsmith the final document, which will include your name, age, occupation, marital status and the document used for your identity, as well as your first-person narration of the incident.
You will swear before the the judge that you are telling the truth, sign and pay the 14 pesos. The judge will then print out the document on the spot. A second copy will be kept at that courthouse forever.
And as CYA insurance options goes, 14 pesos is a great investment for some peace of mind.