By Alexandros Clerides

In any case where the death of a person results from an act of another person, there is a question as to how much this act will entail criminal liability or not.

In the Criminal Code of Cyprus, articles 205 (homicide), 210 (reckless, reckless or dangerous act) and 224 (dangerous act) are relevant. Homicide is punishable by a maximum penalty of up to life imprisonment, the reckless/dangerous act by up to four years in prison and/or a €2,500 fine and the dangerous act by even lower penalties.

The most essential difference, however, apart from the penalties provided by the law, is in the necessary facts needed for each case, for it is the facts that will predetermine what will be the most correct article of the Criminal Code in each case.

In order for the act in question to be considered a homicide, there must be an illegal act or omission which has actually resulted from the culpable negligence of failing to perform a duty. Therefore, one immediately detects that the crime of homicide, in contrast to the other related crimes, imposes that the act is illegal, includes both an act and an omission, and it is mandatory that the act or omission has caused the death of a third person due to negligence. Such are the cases when someone causes an accident by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That is, through an illegal act (driving under the influence) he caused the death of another due to his negligence (liability to other drivers on the road).

In order for the said act to be thoughtless/reckless/dangerous, which is the second category, the act that caused the death of a third person must not have resulted from culpable negligence. Therefore, the offence requires an act, which must be characterised as thoughtless/reckless/dangerous and which has caused death but not due to negligence. The essential difference from the crime of manslaughter is that in the crime of manslaughter the defendant knowingly assumed an actual risk, realising that there was a risk of causing death or serious bodily harm. While in the crime of reckless act it is sufficient to prove unconscionable or objective or second degree negligence, that is, that the accused perceived the danger as a possibility and not as an actual or substantial possibility required for the crime of homicide. Such are the cases, for example, where the driver of the vehicle was not under the influence and therefore his act (e.g. driving) was legal, but something in the events led to the death of another person without the defendant knowing in advance that his action had a real/substantial possibility of causing the death of the other.

Finally, article 224 states that, except in case of necessity, a person who undertakes to perform surgery or other treatment on another or to perform any lawful act which may be dangerous to the life or health of another person, has a duty to exercise reasonable skill and exercise reasonable care in the execution of such an act and is deemed to have caused any consequence to the life or health of any person which is due to any omission in the observance or execution of the above duty.

Most recently, (01/12/22), the Supreme Court raised the sentence from the initial 12 months in prison to 2,5 years in prison in a case where driving recklessly in Ayia Napa caused the death of another person.