Skip Main Navigation
Safe exit

Criminal law information

Our criminal law online guides give accurate and accessible information about the law and your legal rights to help women access justice and safety from violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The legal information on this page is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem you should seek legal advice.

Can’t find what you are looking for or need legal advice? Contact our legal advice line.

Please note that some legal guides list out of date opening hours for our advice lines. Please check here for up-to-date information on all of our advice lines.

The criminal justice process

Reporting an offence to the police: A guide to criminal investigations

This guide is designed to give you information about criminal investigations and the police.

From charge to trial: A guide to criminal proceedings

This legal guide sets out information about what happens once the perpetrator has been charged with a criminal offence.

Sentencing in criminal courts

This guide aims to help survivors understand what happens when an abuser is found guilty of an offence. It will also outline the range of sentences that are available for particular offences
and the factors the court may consider when imposing a sentence. The way in which the offender is held to account is called the sentence.

Special measures in the criminal and family courts

This legal guide will give you information about the practical steps the criminal and family courts can take to help you attend court and give evidence if you are a victim of domestic abuse or sexual violence.

Options when an abuser is not prosecuted

This guide explores the options for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence where the police or CPS do not charge the abuser with an offence.

A guide to the victims right to review scheme

This guide is designed to give you information about your right to request a review of certain decisions made by the police or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

A guide to criminal injuries compensation

If you have experienced a violent crime you may be eligible to apply for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012. This legal guide is designed to give you information about criminal injuries compensation, who can apply for it and how.

Putting in a complaint about the police or CPS

If you are unhappy with the way the police or CPS have behaved towards you or handled your case then you can put in a complaint. This legal guide explains your options.

Domestic violence

Coercive control and the law

It is a criminal offence in England and Wales for someone to subject you to coercive control. If you experience this kind of abuse you can report it to the police. You may also be able to apply to the Family Court for protection. This legal guide is designed to give you information about the ways in which the law can protect you.

Sexual violence

From report to court: A handbook for adult survivors of sexual violence

This handbook will explain the different stages of the legal process, from the point of deciding whether to report the incident to the police, through to the trial, the outcome of the trial and sentence. From Report to Court also sets out the relevant law and what obligations the different agencies in the criminal justice system have to survivors.

Survivors of sexual violence: Your rights at a glance

This guide summarises some of your rights and what you should expect from the criminal justice system as a survivor of sexual violence.

Rape and assault by penetration: Information for survivors of sexual violence

This legal guide is designed to give information about two offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the SOA 2003): rape and assault by penetration.

Understanding sexual assault and causing someone to engage in sexual activity

This information sheet is designed to give information about two offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the SOA 2003): sexual assault and causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent.

What to do if you have been sexually harassed, assaulted or raped on campus

If you have experienced any form of discrimination, harassment or sexual violence (“misconduct”) on campus or while at university, your immediate response will probably be determined by the type of misconduct. In the immediate aftermath, consider seeking medical help and reporting to the police.

Harassment and stalking

Harassment and the law

It is a criminal offence in England and Wales for someone to harass you or put you in fear of violence. This legal guide is designed to give information about the ways in which the law can protect you.

Online abuse

Revenge porn, online abuse and the law

It is a criminal offence in England and Wales for someone to abuse you through the internet or social media. It is also a crime for someone to share private sexual photographs or films of you with other people, to cause you distress. This legal guide is designed to give you information about the ways in which the law can protect you.

Forced marriage

Forced marriage and the law

You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry, or if you marry at all. This guide is on forced marriage and the law.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation and the law

Female genital mutilation is a crime in the United Kingdom. It is a form of violence against women and girls. It causes long lasting physical and psychological harm. This guide will explain how the law can support you.

Young people and sexual and domestic violence

Understand, identify, intervene: Support young people in relation to peer-on-peer abuse, domestic and sexual violence

This legal guide is for anyone who wants to know about the legal options available to young people experiencing particular forms of violence, including domestic violence, sexual violence and specifically, peer-on-peer abuse.

What to do if you have been sexually harassed, assaulted or raped on campus

If you have experienced any form of discrimination, harassment or sexual violence (“misconduct”) on campus or while at university, your immediate response will probably be determined by the type of misconduct. In the immediate aftermath, consider seeking medical help and reporting to the police.

Our information areas

Family law information

Our family law guides include accessible online information on: domestic abuse, children and the law, family court, legal aid, marriage, divorce, civil partnership, finances, living together, and more.

Immigration and asylum law information

Our immigration and asylum law guides include accessible online information on: trafficking, seeking asylum, immigration, and more.

Sexual harassment at work information

Our employment law guides include accessible online information on: sexual harassment and discrimination at work, legal aid, and covid guidance.

Sign up to our newsletter