Representing Victims of Crime

You will be considered a victim of crime if you have suffered damage, for example you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen as a result of an incident which constitutes a crime according to Turkish national law. As a victim of crime, the law grants you certain individual rights before, during and after court proceedings (trial).

Literally “Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of Turkish Criminal Laws.

Victims rights

You will be considered a victim of crime if you have suffered damage, for example you have been injured or your property has been damaged or stolen as a result of an incident which constitutes a crime according to Turkish national law. As a victim of crime, the law grants you certain individual rights before, during and after court proceedings (trial).

Criminal proceedings in Turkey start with investigations that are conducted by the police and the public prosecution office. If there is insufficient evidence against the suspect to press charges, the public prosecution office terminates the proceedings. If, on the other hand, sufficient evidence is available, the public prosecution office will prefer public charges against the suspect before a court. It may, however, also terminate proceedings by way of exception, for example if the suspect has made reparations for material damage caused to you or has fulfilled certain conditions and instructions.

Hearing in court

If the court opens the main proceedings following the indictment, it will examine the evidence against the accused at a hearing in court. If it finds the accused guilty, it will convict him and set a penalty. The court may, however, also terminate the proceedings against the accused, for example if the accused shows remorse and has participated in victim-offender mediation. If the evidence against the accused is insufficient, the court must acquit him. If a judgment is handed down, the criminal proceedings may be continued in a higher court following an appeal.

You as a victim can take part in criminal proceedings as a witness or have a more active role by formally becoming a private prosecutor or private accessory prosecutor and thus benefit from a variety of rights available to you. As a private prosecutor (katılan) you will take the place of the public prosecutor; as a private accessory prosecutor you will take part in the proceedings alongside the public prosecutor.

Report an offence

If you become a victim of a crime, you can report an offence to any police station or police officer, any public prosecution Office or any local governer and sub governer office. You can do so in writing or orally. In the latter case, written minutes will be produced by the authority accepting the report. The report (referred to as ‘filing information of a criminal offence’ in Turkey) should be made in Turkish if possible in order to avoid a delay in processing and can also be submitted by an attorney and you need to authorise him/her specifically.

The reporting of a criminal offence should include your name, your address and your telephone number, in case there are any questions. It is important that you quote all the details you have about the suspect and the offence when reporting the crime in order to make it easier for the police and the public prosecution office to check your details and institute initial investigations.

Time-limit

There is no specific time-limit for the filing of information of a criminal offence. However, certain offences can only be prosecuted if you have filed an application for criminal prosecution. An application for criminal prosecution must be filed within six months after you get to know about the offence and the perpetrator with a court or the public prosecution office or orally for the records with the police.

The institution where you file information of a criminal offence will inform you about what types of crimes will require you to file an application for criminal prosecution. The public prosecution office will, however, only officially pursue certain crimes if it is in the public interest.

Reference number

You will be given a reference number by the authority accepting your report. You can follow up on what the police do and submit further information using the number you received from them. At a later stage, you can also ask the police or the public prosecution office for the public prosecutor’s file number for your case, which will be different from the number quoted by the police. It is preferable to cite reference numbers and file numbers when contacting the authorities, unless you actually do not know them.

Status of a witness

Before the investigation is closed, you will have the status of a witness. You can contact the authorities at any time and give them additional evidence or information. The victims of crime – who are known as the ‘aggrieved person’ in the Code of Criminal Procedure – have more comprehensive rights, such as the right to apply for information regarding whether the suspect is in custody, under certain circumstances the right to inspect the files or to obtain information from the files, the right to avail yourself of the services of a lawyer or to be represented in court by a lawyer.

If you are invited by the police for questioning, you are not obliged to appear. You are obliged to appear if you receive a summons from the public prosecutor or a judge.

Victim rights

If you are summoned for questioning, you have the following rights:

  • to be informed about your rights in the summons, including the possibility of getting assistance;
  • to refuse to testify if you are or were married or engaged to the suspect (the same applies to registered same-sex partnerships) or he/she is your close relative;
  • to refuse to answer specific questions if they might lead to you or your relatives being prosecuted; questions that might dishonour you or belong to your private life may be asked only if absolutely essential;
  • to be accompanied by a person you trust, unless his/her presence would endanger the purpose of the investigations;
  • to be accompanied by a lawyer, who might be excluded if he/she would make the hearing of evidence difficult;
  • to be supported during questioning by a lawyer at public expense if you are unable to exercise your rights yourself;

You are not obliged to provide evidence that a crime has been committed. Finding evidence against the accused is the sole task of the police and the public prosecution office.

If your rights have been violated on account of an offence, a lawyer may inspect the files on your behalf and examine exhibits if he/she can show legitimate interest in doing so. If you do show such an interest, then you may also receive information from or copies of the files so that you may know what stage the proceedings have reached. If you are entitled to join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor after the indictment, you or your lawyer no longer need to show a legitimate interest in order to be able to inspect the files or receive information.

Right to inspect the files

The right to inspect the files or receive information from the files may, under certain conditions, be denied during the preliminary investigations, for example if the purpose of the investigations would be endangered. Until charges are preferred and after the proceedings have been concluded by final decision the public prosecution office, otherwise the court dealing with the matter, will decide whether your lawyer will be permitted to inspect the files or whether you can be given information from or copies of the files. If the public prosecution office is responsible, it may authorise the police to do so.

You likewise have the right to avail yourself of legal counsel during your examination as witness.

Under 18 years of age

If you are under 18 years of age, your hearing can be video- and audio-taped, which may possibly even relieve you from appearing at another hearing or even in court. The public prosecution office is required to conduct the investigations particularly quickly.

When reporting a crime or testifying as a witness, if you or others will be endangered if you give your actual address of residence, you can give another address to which authorities can send you correspondence (e.g. summons to a hearing in court). You can even be allowed to remain completely anonymous.

Victim of domestic violence

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can apply to a civil court for a protection order to have the accused ejected from your joint home and to ban him from approaching you. In the interests of protecting children, the person(s) having custody (generally the parents) may be denied those custody rights entirely or in part. The same applies to access rights (including contact). The police can also send the offender away from the family home or arrest him/her before the court order is issued.

Mediation

If you and the accused agree to it, you have the option of conducting mediation proceedings, known as ‘victim-offender mediation’ in Turkey. The public prosecution office and the court must examine at each stage of the proceedings whether there is a possibility of reaching a settlement between the accused and the victim of a crime and, in suitable cases, they must work towards such a settlement being reached.

The victim-offender mediation itself does not normally take place in the context of the criminal proceedings, and often involves a specially trained mediator. Victim-offender mediation can only begin if both parties are willing to participate. The accused must therefore to a certain extent admit to by his responsibility for the wrong he/she has committed. Often payments or other forms of compensation are agreed during victim-offender mediation.

Once the investigations have been completed, the public prosecution office will decide whether there are sufficient grounds for indicting the suspect. If that is the case, it will prefer public charges before a court. In the case of certain criminal offences, for example bodily injury, you may join the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor. To do so, you must make a written declaration before that court where the charges are preferred.

A declaration regarding your joining the proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor which the court receives before charges are preferred will not take effect until the public charges have actually been preferred.

Terminating proceedings

The public prosecution office may, however, also terminate proceedings, for example if the suspect’s guilt was to be regarded as of a minor nature and there is no public interest in the prosecution. That is, for instance, the case if the suspect has no previous convictions, compensates the damage arising or has fulfilled other conditions and instructions.

Generally, the court will be required to agree to the proceedings being terminated in this way. If the public prosecution office terminates proceedings – regardless of why – you will be informed of that fact.

You as the victim can appeal the public prosecutor’s decision to terminate proceedings on account of the lack of sufficient suspicion of an offence within two weeks.

You cannot in principle terminate ongoing proceedings which the public prosecution office is officially conducting against the suspect. The opposite is the case if you have filed an application for criminal prosecution and subsequently withdraw it. That can, for instance, be possible in the case of certain crimes, for instance trespass or defamation. In the case of other crimes for which an application can be filed there may be a special public interest in the offences being prosecuted. That applies, for instance, to criminal offences such as theft and misappropriation.

Offences Against Victims

Offences Against Victims; Intentional Killing, Intentional Killing by Act of Ommission, Directing Suicide, Reckless Killing, Intentional Injury, Aggravated Injury on Account of its Consequences, Intentional Injury by Omission, Reckless Injury, Experimentation on Human Beings, Trading of Organs and Tissues, Torture, Aggravated Torture on Account of its Consequences, Torment, Abandonment, Failure in the Duty of Assistance or Notification, Illegal abortion, Miscarriage, Sterilization, Sexual Assault, Sexual abuse of children, Sexual Intercourse with those who have not achieved adulthood, Sexual Harassment, Blackmail, Force, Deprivation of Liberty, Prevention of Education and Training, Prevention of the Exercise of Political Rights, Prevention of the Exercise of Freedom of Belief, Thought and Conviction, Violation of the Immunity of Residence, Violation of the Freedom to Work and Labour, Preventing the Exercise of Trade Unions Rights, Unlawful Search, Preventing the Exercise of the Right to Petition, Discrimination, Disturbing an Individuals’ Peace and Harmony, Prevention of Communication, Insult, Violation of Confidentiality of Communication, Eavesdropping and Recording of Conversations between Persons, Violation of Privacy, Recording of Personal Data, Illegally Obtaining or Giving Data, Destruction of Data, Theft, Robbery, Damage to Property, Damaging Places of Worship and Cemeteries, Trespass, Abuse of Trust, Using a Bond Without Value, Theft by Deception, Enjoyment of Lost Property, Bankruptcy by Deception, Reckless Bankruptcy, Benefiting Without Payment, False Information about Companies or Co-operatives, Purchasing or Accepting Property Acquired through the Commission of an Offence.

In addition to criminal actions, it is also possible to bring personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against a wide range of commercial entities and property owners, such as:

  • Nightclubs and bars: Assaults and shootings frequently occur inside and directly outside of nightclubs and bars, resulting in serious injury or death. Too often, venues do not have enough bouncers, metal detectors, or other simple security measures to prevent such incidents.
  • Apartments and housing complexes: Landlords have a duty to keep tenants and guests safe, via a secured entry, lighting and other security measures. Violent crime victims can sue their apartment buildings’ owner or manager if they fail to put security in place.
  • Hotels and Resorts: Hotels and resorts have a duty to protect guests from violent crime. Failing to take appropriate measures to deter criminal activity can render the establishment legally liable.
  • Shopping malls: Often, owners of retail properties know that criminal activity is regularly occurring on their premises but fail to implement security.
  • Banks: As prime targets for robbery, banks must have comprehensive security plans in place to protect their patrons and employees as much as reasonably possible from an armed robber.
  • Security Companies: The point of hiring a security firm is to protect ourselves against violence. When an attack occurs because of inadequate staffing or training, failure of security equipment or other negligence, those contractors are liable for injuries.