Domestic Violence in Greece

Domestic Violence in Greece

Author: Elisavet Kokonidou
Published: 19/11/2022

In times of crisis, domestic violence increases, as recorded by calls to the Greek SOS 15900 hotline, which multiplied during the recent pandemic quarantine.

Penalties for domestic violence offenses in Greece are more severe than for corresponding offenses under the Penal Code and are regulated by Law 3500/2006 which, as amended, remains in force.

Concept and Acts of Domestic Violence

Greek law defines domestic violence as the commission of a criminal act against a family member, which may include:

  • physical injury
  • illegal violence and threats
  • rape and the abuse of seduction
  • offence of sexual dignity
  • intentional homicide
  • and fatal bodily injury.

However, in order to be included in the Domestic Violence Law, minor physical injuries such as bare-handed blows on the victim's shoulder must be caused in continuous conduct of the offender (Judgments of the Supreme Court of Greece Number 1/2022 and 1203/2015).

Typical is the decision number 3428/2013 of the Thessaloniki Trial Court of Appeal, which accepted, inter alia, the following:

"It was proved that the defendant intentionally, by several acts constituting continuous conduct, caused the plaintiff a very slight injury to her and damage to her health. Specifically, on 31-5-2007, after grabbing her, he threw her down on the floor while she was holding her infant child in her arms, causing her to suffer a contusion of the (DE) hand and on 14-8-2007, he hit her with punches, fists, kicks and blows with a charger cable on various parts of her body, causing bruises. Though there were no witnesses other than the persons involved in the said incident of 14-8-2007, the fact stated by the aggrieved person is found to be true, taking into consideration, on the one hand, the fact that her mother and examined witness testified before this Court that she saw the bruises on her daughter and the charger cord held by the accused, and on the other hand, the numerous incidents of verbal violence and physical violence with the accused as the perpetrator that had preceded them."

According to the case law of the Supreme Court of Greece, bruises, contusions, abrasions, redness, dizziness, dizziness, headache, concussion (Supreme Court of Greece, Judgments No 963/2019, 1649/2016 and 810/2015), simple injuries (Supreme Court of Greece, Judgment 540/2001), blows with bare hands on the head, shoulder, arms, or legs (Supreme Court of Greece, Judgment 433/1998) were considered as minor bodily injuries.

Acts of Domestic Violence under Greek Law on Domestic Violence

Protected Persons Under the Domestic Violence Act

The offence of domestic violence is standardized when it is committed against a family member. According to Law 3500/2006, a family is:

  • The community consisting of spouses or persons in a registered partnership, parents, first and second degree relatives related by blood or marriage, and their adopted children.
  • If they live together, the family includes relatives by blood or marriage up to the fourth degree and persons whose commissioner, guardian ad litem, or foster parent is a designated family member, and any minor person who lives with the family.
  • Permanent partners and to the children, in common or of one of the ex-spouses in the parts of a partnership that has been dissolved, as well as the former, permanent comrades.

Penalties in Domestic Violence

The penalties for domestic violence offences under the current legal regime include:

Misdemeanors (imprisonment up to 5 years)

Assaults on Physical Integrity
  • Domestic simple bodily harm and very slight bodily harm caused by persistent behavior (imprisonment of at least one year)
  • Domestic dangerous bodily harm (imprisonment for at least 2 years)
  • Domestic assault against a pregnant woman or against a family member who, for whatever reason, is unable to resist (imprisonment for at least 2 years)
  • Domestic assault committed in the presence of a minor member of the family (imprisonment for at least one year)
Infringements of Personal Liberty
  • Unlawful domestic violence (imprisonment for at least 6 months)
  • Unlawful domestic threats (imprisonment)
Offences Against Sexual Dignity
  • Domestic assault on sexual dignity (imprisonment for up to 2 years)
  • Domestic assault on the sexual dignity of a minor (imprisonment of at least 6 months and up to 3 years)
  • Threat or use of violence against or bribery of a witness or a member of his family with the intention of obstructing justice (imprisonment of 3 months to 3 years).

Felonies

  • Domestic aggravated assault (imprisonment up to 10 years)
  • Aggravated domestic serious bodily harm in which the perpetrator intended or knew and accepted the result of his act (imprisonment)
  • Simple domestic assault with the intentional infliction of severe physical pain or physical exhaustion dangerous to health or mental suffering and likely to cause serious psychological harm, in particular through prolonged isolation of the victim (imprisonment) and in the aggravating circumstance where the victim is a minor (imprisonment for a minimum of 10 years)
  • Rape (imprisonment)
  • Abuse of indecent assault (imprisonment for up to 10 years)

Video on Domestic Violence in Greece with Elisavet Kokonidou

Penal Mediation in Domestic Violence

In misdemeanor domestic violence cases, the prosecutor shall explore the possibility of penal mediation. A prerequisite for the initiation of criminal mediation proceedings is the submission of a statement by the person to whom the commission of the crime is attributed that he or she is willing cumulatively:

  1. To promise not to commit any act of domestic violence in the future and, in the case of cohabitation, to agree to stay away from the family home for a reasonable period of time if the victim suggests it. A report shall be drawn up on this promise.
  2. To attend a special counseling and treatment program for dealing with domestic violence in a public institution at any place and for as long as the therapists concerned consider it necessary.
  3. As far as possible, to immediately remove or remedy the consequences of the act and pay reasonable financial compensation to the victim.

If the offender complies with the conditions of the criminal mediation for a period of three years, the procedure is terminated and the state's criminal claim for the crime concerned is expunged.

If, however, the public prosecutor finds that the criminal mediation was not completed due to the offender's fault, then he or she shall withdraw the case file from the file and the criminal proceedings shall continue in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and without the submission of a new request for criminal mediation being permitted.

Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence

According to the current law, if the offence of domestic violence constitutes a felony, then it is barred after 20 years if the law provides for a life sentence and after 15 years in any other case. However, if the offence is a misdemeanor, then it shall be barred after five years.

In cases of domestic violence resulting in physical injury, domestic unlawful violence and threats, and domestic assault on the sexual dignity of a minor, the statute of limitations commences when the victim reaches the age of majority plus one year thereafter if the offense is a misdemeanour and for three years thereafter if it is a felony.

Means of Defence in Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, in whatever form it takes, is a flagrant breach of the victim’s human rights. The victim may defend himself or herself against the offender in two ways:

  1. First, by filing a complaint against the offender in which the victim requests criminal prosecution against the offender. The complaint may be made by any third party, not necessarily by the victim.
  2. Second, by bringing an action against the offender in civil court, by which the victim will request the offender pay financial compensation. At its discretion, the court decides the amount of financial compensation which cannot be less than 1,000 euros unless the victim requests a lesser amount. In civil court, in case of immediate and urgent danger, the victim may also apply for injunctive relief.

The choice one option does not prohibit the victim from also choosing the other. The victim may file a complaint and bring an action against the perpetrator or choose only one of the two options.

Means of Defence Against Domestic Violence in Greece

Means of Proof in Domestic Violence

Evidence in a court case is the means of knowledge used by the court to convince itself of the truth of disputed allegations. In the case of domestic violence, means of proof include, among others:

  • medical opinions mainly from a public hospital;
  • police reports of the incident;
  • testimonies from people (e.g., neighbors) who know about the incident because the victim made it known to them or because they witnessed the incident;
  • photos, if possible, with the date that they have been taken;
  • and various other means of proof, depending on the incident.

There are times when the victim does not report the offence because, in his or her judgment, there is insufficient evidence or persons willing to testify as witnesses. However, proper handling of the case may lead to conviction, event when the evidence first appears to be "insufficient." Proper and careful collection of evidence by the victim's lawyer is therefore crucial.

Our law firm has been handling family law cases since 2005. Read on our website anonymized judgments issued in cases we have handled. Feel free to contact us for responsible advice and to suggest the appropriate steps to resolve your problem.

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