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A guide for victims of rape and serious sexual assault - What happens when a case comes to the CPS

Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens

We’re committed to securing justice for victims of sexual violence and this guide explains what you can expect from the criminal justice system if you decide to report what has happened to the police. This information applies to all victims of sexual violence - including women and girls and men and boys.

If you need emergency help please call 999.

Note on terminology

We’ve used the word 'victim' throughout this guide. When we’re talking about crime in general, we use the word victim to mean someone who has had a crime committed against them or the complainant in a case being considered or prosecuted by the CPS - this is consistent with the terminology used in other documents like the Victims’ Code. 

When we’re working on a specific case we will usually use the words complainant or witness depending on the context. This is because when a case is coming through the criminal justice process it hasn’t always been proven that a crime has taken place. Complainant is the legal term for someone who has reported a crime which hasn’t yet been proven in court.

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