Confidential advice and support

The Law And Legal Process

Crown Prosecution Service, Magistrates Court and Bail, Crown Court, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

Having made a complaint of rape or sexual abuse to the Police, given your statement as to what happened and attended a medical examination, the Police will prepare a file of evidence. If the abuser can be identified the file of evidence is then needed in order for the legal process to continue.

Crown Prosecution Service (C.P.S.)

On receiving the file of evidence from the Police the C.P.S. will determine if the evidence is substantial and admissible in Court.

Consideration will be given as to how the sexually abused person will stand up to cross examination by the defence lawyers and the possible effects this may have upon them.

The C.P.S. may be reluctant to prosecute if the alleged offender is now old or infirm, unless the offence may be repeated or is so grave it cannot be dealt with in any other way.

If the C.P.S, decide that there is substantial admissible evidence then the alleged offender will be required to appear in Court.

Magistrates Court/Bail

The role of the Court in a rape or sexual abuse case is to determine if a crime has been committed and impose a sentence where/as appropriate.

Rape is a serious case and will therefore go to trial in a Crown Court. However in the first instance the alleged offender will appear at the Magistrate’s Court there it will be decided if the alleged abuser is to be kept in custody or allowed bail.

It is the Magistrates who decide if bail is to be granted and if any conditions are attached to the bail, e.g. the alleged offender: -

  • Must not contact the witnesses
  • Must report daily to a designated Police station
  • Must not visit a stated town etc.

The sexually abused person is not required to attend the Magistrates Court.

Crown Court

Normally it takes several months from the appearance at the Magistrates Court to the hearing at the Crown Court.

At Crown Court the case will be heard by a Judge and Jury, if the defendant pleads not guilty.

However if the defendant pleads guilty, they will appear before a Judge for sentencing. In this case the sexually abused person will not be required to give evidence as a prosecution witness.

The sexually abused person will be notified approximately two weeks before the trial, as to the time and place to attend.

A visit to the Crown Court prior to the Court case can be arranged via the Court Witness Service. This enables the witnesses to familiarise themselves with the Courtroom.

When the sexually abused person arrives at Crown Court on the day of the trial, they will meet the prosecution barrister who may ask questions to clear up any ambiguity.

A separate room is usually made available for prosecution witnesses, thereby ensuring privacy from the defence witnesses and members of the public.

The sexually abused person will be asked to give their evidence by the prosecution barrister, they will then be cross examined by the defence barrister, during this time the defendant will be present in court.

As the main witness in the case, giving evidence may take some considerable time, however the judge will give breaks as and when necessary.

Normally on completing giving evidence the Judge will release a witness who is then free to leave the Courtroom, but must not, of course, discuss the case with any other witness(es).

Whilst the press are allowed to attend the Court hearing, the abused persons details (name/address) cannot be published in a newspaper.

The sexually abused person may request that the Court notify them of the outcome of the trial via the Court Witness Service.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

An adult victim of criminal injury, which occurred in England, Scotland or Wales, may apply to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority for Compensation.

The claim must be submitted within one year of the assault taking place. In some exceptional cases the time limit is waived.

No legal advice or representation is necessary to make an application for compensation.

In the case of rape or sexual assault the assailant need not have been apprehended. Application can also be made if the case goes to Court and the alleged assailant is found not guilty.

Prior to granting compensation, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority must be satisfied that all their criteria is meet and this will necessitate enquiries to the police, hospitals and doctors to verify the extent of the injuries both physical and psychological.


Where a complaint of rape or sexual abuse has been made to the Police there is no need for the victim to instruct a solicitor. Should any difficulties arise with the accused then the Police Officer in charge of the case should be notified immediately when they can take appropriate action.

However, if the matter has not been reported to the Police and problems occur with the abuser, a local solicitor may be contacted and, if appropriate legal aid applied for (the amount is dependent on your income and savings).

The solicitor on behalf of the sexually abused person can apply to the Courts for an injunction to prevent the alleged assailant making contact or visiting certain premises.

For more details log onto CPS website:


The Northamptonshire Rape & Incest Crisis Centre, 184 -186 Billing Road, Wantage Gate, Northampton, Northamptonshire NN1 5RU

Registered Charity No. 297043

This Centre is Grant aided by Northampton Borough Council & Northamptonshire County Council

Telephone: 01604 250721

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