Defendants (criminal proceedings)


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Where will the trial be held?

The case will be heard by the court of the district where the offence was committed.

Your trial will be held in public unless the court directs that it should be in private.  The Constitution sets out reasons for holding the trial in private.

In Cyprus there is no trial by jury. The court, composed of professional judges, is the judge of law and fact.

Can charges be amended during the trial?

The charges may be amended during the trial if the court agrees. This may happen if the information in the charge is inadequate or to streamline the charges with the evidence.

New charges can be added during the trial if they emerge from the evidence, and the court agrees. If this happens the proceedings may be adjourned to allow you to prepare your defence.

If at the end of the trial only part of a charge is proved and it is a stand-alone offence you may be convicted of that offence without amendment of the charge. Likewise you may be convicted of an attempt to commit the offence with which you are charged without amendment of the charge.  At the end of proceedings the court may order that additional charges should be added arising from the evidence, and may convict you without amending the indictment.  This must not lead to a miscarriage of justice.

You may change your plea during the trial in relation to all or any of the charges, if the court agrees to allow you to do so.   If you plead guilty to some of the charges the court will hear the case in relation to the remaining charges. If you plead guilty to all the charges the court will move directly to the sentencing process.

What are my rights during the trial?

You are entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent, impartial and competent court established by law.

The judgement of the court must be reasoned and is generally given in public, unless publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

If you are charged with a criminal offence you have the following minimum constitutional rights:-

  • to be informed promptly and in a language you understand and in detail of the nature and grounds of the charges against you;
  • to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of your defence;
  • to defend yourself in person or through a lawyer of your own choice or, if you cannot pay for legal assistance, to be given free legal assistance if that is in the interests of justice ;
  • to ask questions of witnesses against you and to have the same conditions apply to witnesses on your behalf as to those against you.
  • to have the free legal assistance of an interpreter if you cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

Must I attend the trial?

Once you have been served with a summons requiring you to appear in court, you must attend.  If you do not attend, an arrest warrant will be issued against you.

Will I be held in custody, or released during the trial?

As a rule you will be given bail during the trial except in serious cases.  Detention may be ordered if there is a serious risk that you will not appear at the trial if you are released.   Bail may also be refused if there is a risk that you will commit further offences if you are released.

If bail is refused and the case is tried before a district court, you cannot be detained for more than eight days until your next appearance in court. There is no limit on the period of detention if the case is tried before the Assize Court.

You have the right to appeal against a decision refusing bail. The appeal must be lodged within 10 days of the decision.

There is no fixed time limit for your detention pending the trial. However, you must be tried within a reasonable time.

I live in another Member State.  Can I participate in the trial by video link?

There is no provision for participation in criminal proceedings by video link.

Will I have a lawyer to represent me during the trial?

You do not have to be represented by a lawyer in court proceedings. You have the right to defend yourself in person. If you are represented by a lawyer you have the right to change your lawyer at any stage of the proceedings.

If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be entitled to legal aid if that is in the interests of justice.

If you are represented by a lawyer at the trial, he or she will present your defence. If you defend yourself in person you have the same rights including the right to silence and the right against self-incrimination.

What is my role in the trial?

After the prosecution has presented its case, you have the right to submit to the court that there is no case to answer for any of the following reasons:

  • there has been no evidence to prove an essential element of the offence,
  • the prosecution's evidence has been shown to be unreliable and insufficient for a safe conviction.

If the court agrees with your argument, you will be acquitted without being called to make your defence.

If the court decides that there is a case to answer it must inform you of the following rights:

  • to give evidence under oath.  If you do this, you will be cross-examined by the prosecution.
  • to make an unsworn statement from the dock.  In this case you will not be liable to cross-examination;
  • to remain silent. No adverse inferences may be drawn from the exercise of the right to silence.

Can I call witnesses in my defence?

Whether you choose to give evidence or not, you have the right to call witnesses in your defence.

If you choose to give evidence under oath and you are faced with an incriminating question you must be warned by the court of your right not to answer.

What happens if I lie in court?

If you make a false statement at the trial you commit the crime of perjury which is punishable with imprisonment.

What are my rights in relation to the charges against me?

You have the right to challenge prosecution evidence by cross-examining prosecution witnesses.  You can also object to evidence.

Can I present evidence to support my case?

You may produce any evidence in support of your defence that is relevant to the trial issues and admissible in law.  If you put your character in issue you may call a character witness in your defence.

Can I use a private detective to collect evidence on my behalf?

Yes you can. The evidence collected may be produced in court subject to the same rules as any other evidence.

Will information about my criminal record be taken into account?

Your criminal record may not be disclosed during the trial unless you decide to give evidence and you put your character in issue by making an allegation against the character of a prosecution witness during cross-examination.

Evidence of your previous offences may be presented to the court, provided the crime that you are being tried for is similar to other crimes which you have committed.

Your previous convictions in another Member State may be taken into account except where the convictions have expired.

What happens at the end of the trial?

At the close of trial the parties make their final addresses and the court delivers its judgement.

You may be convicted or acquitted by the court.

If you are convicted, you have the right to address the court before it passes sentence, with a view to reducing your sentence.

For information about possible sentences, see here.

What is the role of the victim during the trial?

The victim has no specific role in the trial, but may be called to give evidence about the events surrounding the offence and the injury, damage and loss suffered as a result.

In the sentencing process the victim may be asked by the prosecution to describe the consequences of the crime. If you agree to compensate the victim, or the victim is prepared to forgive the act, your sentence may be reduced.

Modes of punishment

The following is a list of the various sentences which can be imposed by a court in Cyprus.

  • Imprisonment i.e., incarceration in a state prison for a specified period of time.
  • Periodic imprisonment. If you are convicted of a crime carrying a sentence of three years or less, you may be sentenced to periodic imprisonment lasting no more than fifty two weeks. The period of weekly imprisonment lasts from Friday 8:00am to Monday 5:00pm.
  • Suspended sentence of imprisonment. If your sentence of imprisonment is two years or less it may be suspended for a period of three years subject to conditions.  If you breach the conditions, the original prison sentence will be applied and there may be other consequences.
  • Probation order. The court may make a probation order requiring you to be under the supervision of a probation officer for a period between one to three years. Special provision is made by law for the treatment of juvenile offenders.
  • Young offenders. The age of criminal liability is fourteen years. Imprisonment of persons between the ages of fourteen and eighteen is rare.
  • An order directing the removal of a minor from his/her family. If a parent or person who is responsible for a minor is convicted of certain crimes, the court can order that the child be taken to a place of safety.  The child then becomes the responsibility of the director of the social welfare department.
  • An order for the treatment of a drug addict. A person convicted of a drug offence, may be ordered to undergo treatment at a drug withdrawal centre, instead of imposing any other punishment, provided that the person consents.
  • Giving security to appear for judgement. In this case, conditions are imposed, requiring you to keep the law for a specified period of time. If the condition is breached you may be convicted both for breaking the order and the original offence.
  • The court may bind you over to keep the peace over a specified period of time.
  • Prohibition on attending sporting events. If you are convicted of an act(s) of violence at a football match or any other athletic contest the court may in addition to any other punishment, prohibit you from attending a football match or athletic contest.
  • Confiscation order relating to the proceeds of crime.
  • Disqualification from using a motor vehicle. In the case of a conviction relating to a traffic offence, you may be disqualified from using a motor vehicle. This is supplementary to any other punishment the court may impose.
  • Disqualification from holding or using a sporting gun. This may apply if you are convicted of the illegal use of the gun for the pursuit of game.
  • A forfeiture order.  You may be ordered to forfeit objects which you hold illegally, or which you have obtained illegally.
  • Demolition order. The court may order the demolition of a building which has been erected illegally.

Related links

Government web site referring to the Constitution

Last update: 16/11/2020

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