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Reporting domestic abuse: domestic violence is a criminal offence

Posted by: Διοτίμα
Category: HelpDesk, IDEAS-VIEWS-NEWS

It’s important to take into account that domestic violence is a serious criminal offence punishable with very strict penalties according to Greek law (law 3500/2006 and the Penal Code).

The crimes subjected to punishment are bodily harm (punishment from 1 to 15 years), causing fear or distress by threatening the victim to act violently or to undertake an unlawful act or omission (misdemeanor), the insult to sexual dignity using humiliating speech or actions (up to 2 years), the threat of a witness or member of the family, in order to prevent the administration of justice (penalty ranges from 3 months to 3 years).

Moreover, rape –and marital rape- is punishable with imprisonment from 5 to 15 years according to the Criminal Code.

  • You must know that domestic violence is an ex officio prosecuted offence, so there is no need to formally file a complaint. According to the law, testimonies of witnesses or any other information that come to the knowledge of the Prosecutor suffice for prosecution.

In practice, however, criminal prosecution is not based on the complaint or testimony of witnesses alone; it is important for complainants to file a complaint at the Prosecutor’s office or the police. Only then it is certain that the process will be initiated.

Last but not least, providing that this is an ex-officio prosecuted crime, you should know that once a case is filed, the process cannot be ceased.

  • If your spouse, ex-husband, partner, ex-partner, or another family member abuses you, you may report the incident to the police or the prosecutor’s office. Then you should, immediately, request to receive a written acknowledgment of the complaint from the police. The police are obliged to receive your application and provide you with the document. By contacting the police you should know that the authorities are obliged to investigate the complaint, record the incident in the registry and inform the Prosecutor in writing.

Through experience we know that quite often the victims are discouraged by the police authorities: «Go home», «get along with him», «don’t you care about your children?», «you’ll get into trouble», are some of the most stereotypical phrases you may hear.

In this case, you should insist and the police are obliged to accept your complaint as -according to Law 3500/2006 and the Penal Code- domestic violence is an ex-officio prosecuted offense. If you still face issues, call your lawyer or 15900 to mediate and inform the police.

Last but not least, if you are injured, the police should send you to a medical examiner. If not, ask for it. Do not forget to ask for a copy of the medical examination afterwards.

  • It’s important to know that the Law provides you protection forbidding the abuser to approach you, your children, your family, or the witnesses (at home, at school, at work, etc.).

If you feel that you, your children, or any other person close to you are in danger, ask from the Court the taking of precautionary measures, which include: relocation of the perpetrator, prohibition of access to your residence, work, etc. Violating precautionary measures can result in arrest and/or a fine.

  • Apart from the complaint, you can sue for domestic violence at the local police department or the Prosecutor’s office. This step is very important in case of a future divorce, as it proves the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Be careful: The lawsuit is filed without paying a fee.
  • In case the offence is a flagrante delicto (committed max.24 hours before the complaint) the police are obliged to seek, arrest, and guide within 48 hours, the perpetrator to the Prosecutor who will refer him to Court. Before the Court, you can ask also for the imposition of restrictive measures until the main hearing.
  • For all the above, you should address to a lawyer, who will inform you in detail about your rights, the protection that the Law can offer you and the process you should follow according to your own needs and personal situation.

In case you cannot afford a lawyer, you may address to a Counseling Centre to seek information about the process you should follow in order to be provided with a legal adviser free of charge.

And do not forget:

No perpetrator is omnipotent. No victim is weak.