Crime of Negligent Bodily Harm in Turkish Law
CRIME OF NEGLIGENT BODILY HARM IN TURKISH LAW
The crime of negligent bodily harm is one of the types of offenses regulated in the Turkish Penal Code. Negligent bodily harm differs from intentional bodily harm. According to Article 89 of the Turkish Penal Code, the crime of negligent bodily harm is defined and subject to punishment. The primary purpose of regulating the crime of negligent bodily harm is to protect physical integrity. It should be noted that in Turkish law, negligent acts are punishable only if the law explicitly specifies them. In the case of bodily harm, the legislator has also foreseen the possibility of it being committed negligently in the relevant article.
WHAT IS NEGLIGENCE?
Negligence is an unforeseen consequence resulting from behavior that violates the duty of care and caution. Negligence can be of two different types: ordinary and conscious. Conscious negligence occurs when the perpetrator does not desire the anticipated outcome, and it carries a heavier penalty. The punishment for a person who commits a crime negligently will generally be determined based on the degree of their fault. If a negligent crime is committed by multiple perpetrators, each perpetrator will be responsible for their own fault. It should be noted that in some cases, the punishment for a person who commits a crime negligently may be reduced, while in others, no punishment may be imposed.
WHAT IS NEGLIGENT BODILY HARM?
The crime of negligent bodily harm occurs when a person injures another person by acting negligently and in violation of their duty of care and caution. The boundaries of the duty of care and whether there were negligent actions will be determined by investigating the specific circumstances of the case. Negligent conduct that causes physical pain to the victim or impairs the victim’s health or perception ability will constitute the crime of negligent bodily harm. In this context, for the crime of negligent bodily harm to occur:
– Physical pain must be inflicted on the person.
Discomfort, pain, ache, or soreness inflicted on a person’s body by violating their physical integrity falls within this scope. Continuous pain is not a requirement; it is sufficient if it is felt momentarily. In this context, pushing someone negligently can also lead to the crime of negligent bodily harm.
– Impairment of health
The deterioration of a person’s normally functioning organism, i.e., falling ill, is considered within this scope. Infecting someone unintentionally with a virus, for example, also constitutes negligent bodily harm. Impairment of mental and emotional health is also considered in this context.
– Impairment of perception ability
Intoxication of a person is also considered an impairment of perception ability. Traumas fall within this category.
PENALTY FOR NEGLIGENT BODILY HARM
The crime of negligent bodily harm is subject to criminal sanctions under the law. According to the relevant article, a person who injures another person negligently can be punished with imprisonment for a term ranging from 3 months to 1 year or with a fine. In other words, the offender can be sentenced to both imprisonment and a fine, or only one of these two types of penalties can be imposed. The judge will determine the penalty based on the specific circumstances of the case. It should be noted that in cases of conscious negligence, a complaint from the victim is required for the investigation of negligent bodily harm, except for conscious negligence.
AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES DUE TO CONSEQUENCES IN NEGLIGENT BODILY HARM CASES
The Turkish Penal Code, in Article 89, paragraphs 2 and 3, regulates aggravated circumstances due to the consequences of negligent bodily harm. Accordingly, if as a result of negligent bodily harm, the victim:
– Suffers a permanent weakening of one of their senses or organs,
– Suffers a bone fracture,
– Experiences persistent speech difficulties,
– Sustains a permanent scar on their face,
– Faces a life-threatening situation,
– A pregnant woman’s child is born prematurely,
– Falls into an incurable illness or a vegetative state,
– Loses the function of one of their senses or organs,
– Loses their ability to speak or reproduce,
– Experiences a permanent change in their facial appearance,
– A pregnant woman’s child miscarries,
the offender will receive an increased penalty.
FAULT IN NEGLIGENT BODILY HARM
To be punishable, the offender must possess the capacity for fault. The offender must have a sense of wrongdoing. For example, a person who knowingly proceeds through a red light, believing that there will be no consequences, has a sense of wrongdoing. In negligent bodily harm cases, negligence is important because the degree of fault determines the punishment. The offender must act contrary to the duty of care and caution expected of them, considering their perception abilities, experience, life circumstances, education, and level of knowledge.
NEGLIGENT BODILY HARM OF MULTIPLE INDIVIDUALS
Negligent bodily harm can be committed against multiple individuals with a single act. In this case, according to the principles of similar species aggregation, a prison sentence ranging from six months to three years will be imposed. In cases of negligent bodily harm to multiple individuals, there is no option for a fine; imprisonment will be applicable. If the action of the offender leads to injuries to multiple individuals, the offender will receive a more severe penalty. A person who negligently injures multiple individuals will receive a prison sentence of up to three years, with a minimum term of six months. For example, a faulty welding operation by the offender resulting in an explosion and injuries to several people present in the vicinity is an example of such a situation.
PERSONAL EXEMPTION AND REDUCTION OF PENALTY IN NEGLIGENT BODILY HARM CASES
Personal exemption is considered when the effect of the crime on the offender is so severe that it renders a punishment unnecessary. If conscious negligence is involved in the incident, a punishment will be imposed, but a reduction will be made. The legislator specifically mentioned rural people in the reasoning. Accordingly, it has been observed that children were injured, and even killed, due to the inability of rural women to pay sufficient attention and care to their children due to their daily struggles and life difficulties. In this case, it is not suitable for the crime policy for a mother who has lost her child to also be prosecuted and sentenced for negligent bodily harm. Two conditions are required for personal exemption:
1. The consequence must cause a level of hardship that makes it unnecessary to impose a punishment.
2. The hardship must be solely related to the offender’s personal and family circumstances.
In this context, there must be a family relationship between the deceased person and the offender. For example, if the offender hits a tree and the person sitting in the passenger seat (who is also the offender’s spouse) is harmed, the spouse will not be subject to punishment for negligent bodily harm.
INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION PROCEDURE FOR NEGLIGENT BODILY HARM
The investigation and prosecution of negligent bodily harm depend on a complaint. Without a complaint, the relevant authorities cannot initiate an investigation and prosecution regarding negligent bodily harm. However, if the incident involves conscious negligence, it will be investigated ex officio, and no complaint will be required. According to the interpretation of the Supreme Court, if multiple individuals are injured, the complaint of one of them is not sufficient for the investigation; the number of complainants and non-complainants will determine whether an investigation and prosecution can be conducted. The complaint period is generally six months and starts from the commission of the crime and the discovery of the offender.
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