Criminal law is a set of regulations that indicate the actions the society disapproves. A criminal wrong differs from civil wrong. Precisely, a criminal wrong denotes an action that inexcusably and unacceptably threatens or causes damage to individuals or the society. Criminal law focuses on protecting society and discourage criminal acts, by imposing punishments on people conducting these actions. It is remarkable that Criminal law regulations in Cyprus reflect to a great extend the main principles and major offenses of the English Common Law.
The Criminal Code (Cap. 154) includes all the main offenses and criminal responsibilities. On the other hand, the Criminal Procedure Law (Cap. 155), regulates all the matters related to criminal proceedings. Precisely, the structure of the Criminal Procedure Law envisions to provide support to all significant provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, the European Convention of Human Rights and other international treaties. This ensures the application of the law in a way that protects the rights of the citizens and at the same time is not preventing the protection of individuals from criminal wrongs and the conferment of justice.
Criminal Responsibility and Proceedings:
Before proceeding with the general criminal responsibility guidelines in Cyprus, it should be clarified that an individual under the age of 10 cannot be held criminally liable for any offense committed. Following the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, every individual charged with an offense is considered as being innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the prosecution must prove that the accused individual is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. That is to say, the burden of proof falls on the prosecution side. In addition, it should be highlighted that criminal responsibility and/or sanctions are imposed only if there is a clear criminal intention.
Usually, the criminal prosecutions are instituted by the state. According to the Constitution, the Attorney General of the Republic, who is an independent officer of the government, may institute, conduct, take over, continue and discontinue any proceedings for an offense against any person in the Republic of Cyprus. Furthermore, the Police may institute proceedings through the District Divisional Commander of the Police based on the provisions of the Police Law (Cap. 285). These cases tend to have a public element and they are always under the supervision of Attorney General.