Legal Assistance

 

Criminal 

Civil

 

What is legal assistance?

Legal assistance can help victims find their way through the court system as well as locate legal information and services.  Legal assistance and legal information are different from legal advice, which only lawyers can give; this website does not give legal advice.  Legal assistance provided by LINC is a free service for victims of crime.

LINC works to make sure victims of crime can safely access legal information that is accurate, and resources and services that are trauma-informed services.  Trauma-informed services are safe, trustworthy, collaborative, and empowering, and recognize the individual experience of people and the impact trauma and crime has on their lives.

This website is a place to start. Here, crime victims and their loved ones can learn more about the legal system in Colorado. For example, it is a place to learn about differences between the criminal and civil legal systems. 

LINC also has trained Navigators who are ready to help. Navigators work to help victims of crime find the legal information and services they need. Contact a navigator for more information or for help.

What is the difference between the criminal and civil legal systems?

The legal system has two parts: criminal and civil. A single event may involve the criminal system, civil system, or both. Each system has its own rules. 

The criminal system begins when an event that involves people or property is reported to law enforcement (police). Law enforcement officers investigate what happened. Prosecutors (district attorneys or city attorneys) decide whether to file criminal charges against the person who may have committed a crime (called a defendant if charges are filed). Prosecutors file a criminal case on behalf of the government. The victim does not get to decide whether or not to file charges. If a defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, the court sets the punishment (also called the sentence). The sentence is enforced by the corrections system (prison, jail, probation, parole, or community corrections). 

To learn more about steps in the criminal justice system, click here.

The civil system deals with issues between people (such as divorce, broken contracts or arguments about property) as well as harm to people and property. Sometimes people refer to a civil case as a lawsuit or suing someone. In the civil system, the victim is the person who files a case (unlike the criminal system, where the prosecutor files charges on behalf of the government). When a victim files a civil case, there is no prosecutor. Usually, law enforcement and corrections officers are not involved in civil cases. 

Sometimes victims are told by law enforcement or prosecutors that what happened to them was not a crime or cannot be proven as a crime. Even in those cases, victims may still have civil legal options.

To learn more about the civil system, click here.

To learn more about the difference between criminal and civil systems, please contact a LINC Navigator.  

This website gives information about the legal system, but does not give legal advice. To find affordable legal representation in your area, click here. To find information on legal clinics or legal resources, click here.

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