Criminal Law in Cyprus
Cyprus is one of the safest countries not only in Europe but also in the world. However, no place is so completely devoid of crime that it can afford to have a weak criminal law system. Cyprus being a British colony, like many others has retained many of the significant features of the common law system and also has constitutional provisions for the application of British laws where there are no laws available on a subject matter in Cyprus. The criminal law in Cyprus is heavily influenced by the British Criminal Law. Ever since becoming an EU member in early 2000s Cyprus law is superseded by the European law on any matters of conflict.
The Criminal Code Cap. 154 and The Criminal Procedure Act Cap. 155 are the key pieces of legislation governing the regulation of criminal justice. Cap 154 contains the definitions, details, and punishments for various kinds of offenses whereas Cap.155 lays down the procedures to be followed during the arrests, investigations, proceedings etc. Owing to its roots in the common law, Cyprus criminal system follows some of the fundamental common law principles like the right to a proper trial, accused’s right to be heard, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty etc.
Constituents of a Crime
To prove a crime two of the most essential things that need to be established are –
* Actus Reus – A guilty act, meaning an offense is committed
* Mens Rea – A guilty mind, meaning it is committed with full understanding and intent towards the said act.
Failing to prove even one of the aforementioned results in failure to prove that an offense was committed. So, even if an offense can be easily proved to have been committed, sometimes even prima facie; if it cannot be proved that the offender possessed full knowledge about the nature of his act, its consequences, or simply a guilty mind, then the accused cannot be convicted.
Even when the above constituents are proven an accused still has the chance to not be held guilty and escape conviction if they are able to provide a reasonable and probable defense. Some of the common defenses include self-defense, provocation, consent of the injured party for the injuring act, commission of the offense under duress or coercion, involuntary commission of the said act without any control over the functioning of their own body, involuntary intoxication, mistake of fact, insanity. One of the other defenses is that of being a minor as children under the age of 14 years cannot be held
criminally responsible as they are believed to not have the element of mens-rea just by the virtue of their age, regardless of the nature of the crime.
Courts and Jurisdictions
Not being humungous in size Cyprus doesn’t need many levels of courts. The three main courts having criminal jurisdiction are the District courts, Assize courts and the highest court of the country, the Supreme court. Assize courts though can try all criminal cases, however, in practice, only cases involving offenses punishable with more than 5 years imprisonment tried by the assize courts. All cases involving offenses punishable with up to 5 years imprisonment are tried by the district courts. There are five assize courts located at Nicosia, Paphos, Larnaca, and Limassol.
Rights of the Accused
Cyprus provides the accused with the right to be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof lies on the prosecution to prove an accused guilty and not on the accused to prove themselves to be innocent. These are guaranteed by the constitution itself.
Further, rights relating to arrests and detention are protected in the Cap. 155 relating to criminal procedures. A person on being arrested has the right to be informed in their language of all the rights they have. They also have the right to a lawyer and to know the reason for their arrest. They have the right to know about free legal aid and the conditions to qualify for the same. They have the right to inform their lawyer and their family or friends right after the arrest without delay. Right to stay silent and to know the place where they are being detained.
If an arrested person is being detained they have the right to be safe from any physical torture or abuse and also to have medical examination and treatment.
The punishments depend on the exact offenses involved and are prescribed from the Cap. 154, The Criminal Code. The punishments can consist of only fines, or probation in less serious offenses, and can be increased to house arrests, and even imprisonment if the offense is serious enough. Sentences can also be ruled as suspended sentences giving the offender another chance for redemption.
We can Help
Simon Zenios & Co has vast experience and deep expertise in dealing with a wide variety of criminal cases. Our highly professional staff ensures complete privacy along with letting no stone unturned towards the success of your case. Criminal law is a tricky area as some of the smallest details in a
case can make a huge difference and there is often a lot at stake. Our extensive knowledge of EU, as well as Cyprus criminal law, ensure that no relevant details go to waste and everything at our disposal will be put to use to make sure your side is as strong as possible.
We specialize in defending your rights even if you are unaware of which exact rights you are entitled to. If you want to clarify, confirm, or just want to know your exact rights in any given situation we are never more than a message away.
Keeping you updated at every step of the legal process is an integral part of our functioning and you will never find yourself caught in the dark. For any queries regarding any of the criminal laws or procedures or any other legal matter under the sun, please reach out to us here.
Some of the common areas where we provide our services are –
* Manslaughter and homicide
* Violent Offenses
* Drug trafficking or possession of narcotics
* Corruption or Economic Offences
* Sexual assaults
* Road traffic and Motor Vehicle Offenses
* Health and safety offenses
* Trade description offenses
* Money laundering