Defendants (criminal proceedings)


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What is the purpose of a criminal investigation?

A criminal investigation is designed to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding a crime.

As a rule, the investigation is carried out by the police. In exceptional cases the Council of Ministers or the Attorney–General may authorize experts for the investigation. Decisions to prosecute are as a rule taken by the police under the overall instructions of the Attorney–General. In serious criminal cases the decision is taken by the Attorney–General.

An investigation begins when information reaches the police that a criminal offence(s) has been committed.

The police will examine the scene of the crime and collect relevant information and material. They will also examine and take statement(s) from any person who has information about the crime.

If the evidence suggests that you were involved in a crime, the police may question you before or after arrest.

When and how can I be asked for information by the police?

If the police believe that you have useful information concerning a crime they may demand your presence at a police station in order to give a statement or produce any relevant document. If you refuse to attend, they may serve you with a written notice. Failure to comply without reasonable excuse is a criminal offence.

Will I be cautioned?

If you are suspected of involvement in a crime you must be cautioned in the following terms before being questioned: “you are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but whatever you say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence”. If you are a minor you must also be informed of your right to communicate with your parent or guardian.

You may be arrested on the strength of a judicial warrant and in certain circumstances without a warrant of arrest. See here.

What information will I be given if I am arrested?

You must be informed of the reasons for your arrest unless a violent reaction from you makes this impossible.

What happens after an arrest?

You must be brought before a judge within 24 hours unless released earlier.

What happens if there is a European Arrest Warrant against me?

A European arrest warrant must follow the process and contain the information required by law. It must be issued by a judicial authority of the applicant state. For more information see here.

Will I be held in custody or released?

If the police consider that you should be detained, they must apply to a district court judge to remand you in custody for no more than eight days. This can be renewed provided that the total period of custody is not more than three months.

The court may remand you in custody if there is evidence suggesting that you were involved in the commission of the offence(s) in question.  The court will also consider whether custody is necessary for the investigation and balance this against your right to freedom.

Can I appeal against a decision to remand me in custody?

You can appeal against the decision. The appeal must be lodged within ten days.

What happens if I do not answer the police's questions?

No adverse inferences can be drawn from the exercise of the right to silence.

Police questioning must not be oppressive or repetitive.

Can I have a lawyer during questioning?

You have no right to a lawyer during your interrogation by the police. Once arrested you are entitled to communicate immediately over the phone with a lawyer of your choice in private.

I do not speak the language.  Can I have an interpreter?

The law provides that you must have the services of an interpreter in a language which you thoroughly understand and speak.

Can I tell a relative or friend what's happening to me?

You are entitled to communicate with a relative or a person of your choice. If you are a minor you are

also entitled to communicate with your parent or guardian in the presence of the police. Your parents or guardian will be informed by the police about your detention.

Your communication with friends and relatives may be delayed for twelve hours if there is reasonable suspicion that the exercise of this right immediately after arrest will:

  • lead to the destruction of evidence,
  • prevent the arrest of another person(s) in relation to the same crime or
  • lead to the escape of other suspect(s) or the commission of another offence.

I am from another Member State.  Can I contact my Embassy?

If you are from another country, you have the right to communicate with your Embassy or Consul. If no representative is available, then you have the right to communicate with the Office of the Ombudsman or the National Organisation for the Protection of Human Rights.

Can I see a doctor while I am detained?

If during arrest or detention you need medical care, the police must ensure that you are examined by a doctor and if necessary take you to hospital. You have the right to choose the doctor.

Do I have to be present in Cyprus during the investigation?

If you are resident abroad you are not legally obliged to be present during a police investigation.  The law does not yet provide for you to take part in the investigation by video link.

You may leave the country unless a warrant of arrest is issued against you.

Can my home or business premises be searched during the investigation?

Your house or premises may only be searched if a search warrant has been obtained, unless you consent to the search in writing.

Can there be a body search?

You may also be subjected to a body search by someone of the same sex. See here.

Can the police take my fingerprints, samples of my DNA, etc?

If you are detained, the police are legally entitled to take measurements, photographs, fingerprints, palm prints, samples of your handwriting, nail, hair and saliva as part of the investigation.

Your failure to consent is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment or a fine. The police may also take samples of your blood or urine if you consent. If not, a court order may be obtained authorising the police to take such samples under medical supervision.

Will I have to take part in an identification parade?

If you are lawfully detained the police are entitled to demand that you take part in an identification parade.

Can I complain about my treatment by the police?

A complaint against the police may be submitted to the Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints against the Police

What happens at the end of the investigation?

You may be charged by the police if there is enough evidence at the end of the investigation to establish a criminal case against you. Before being charged you must again be cautioned. You may answer guilty or not guilty or reserve the right to answer in court.  The indictment will then be filed in court.

The charges in the indictment may differ from the original charges.

Can I be charged with an offence which I have already been charged with in another Member State?

If you are acquitted or convicted of an offence you cannot be tried again for it. You cannot be found guilty of an act or omission which was not a crime at the time when it was committed.

There is no rule against bringing criminal charges against you before the courts of two different states. But this is highly unusual and you may object to the proceedings in either of the courts.

What happens at the first court hearing?

Once you are summoned to appear before the court you have the right to be provided with the witnesses’ statements as well as with the documents collected during the police investigation including those forming part of the prosecution case.

The prosecution may call additional witnesses at the trial provided adequate notice is given to the defence.

Will information be requested about my criminal record?

Evidence of your previous convictions will not normally be presented at the trial.

If you are convicted of the offence, any similar convictions will be considered in deciding the sentence (see Factsheet 5).

Powers of arrest and search

Police power to arrest

The Constitution of Cyprus provides that a person cannot be lawfully arrested, except where a correctly reasoned warrant has been issued.  All provisions of the criminal procedure law authorising arrest without a judicial warrant must be read subject to this constitutional rule.

The police may apply to a judge of the district court for a warrant for arrest.  The police must submit an affidavit demonstrating that there is evidence to suggest that you are suspected of involvement in a crime and your arrest is necessary for the criminal investigation.

The issue of a warrant of arrest is not automatic. The judge has a discretion and must balance the right of a person to freedom, on the one hand, and public security on the other.

A warrant of arrest remains in force until executed or cancelled by a judge.

Police power to search

A search warrant must be obtained for the search of your home, or your business premises unless you expressly consent in writing to the search. A search warrant must give reasons. It is issued by a district court judge based on information provided by the police under oath. The judge must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the search warrant to be issued.

A police officer has the right to stop and search your vehicle:-

  • if the officer reasonably believes that narcotic drugs may be found,
  • to check whether any explosive substance or illegal weapon is in the vehicle.

A search of your body must be carried out by a member of the police force of the same sex.

A police officer who reasonably suspects that you are in possession of narcotic drugs has the right to stop and search you and if drugs are found, to arrest you.

You have no right of appeal against the issuing of an arrest or a search warrant.

Related links

Law Office of the Republic

Supreme Court of Cyprus

Last update: 16/11/2020

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