The legal system is divided into two areas: civil law and criminal law. Superior courts and State courts usually administrate these two areas of the law in different court sessions.

Civil law covers disputes between two people. In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking the court to protect you from the person abusing you. You are not asking the court to punish that person for committing a crime. The protective orders discussed on this page are handled in civil court.

The criminal law system handles all cases that involve violations of criminal law such as harassment, assault, murder, theft, etc. A criminal complaint involves charging your abuser with a crime. If criminal charges are filed, the case will be in the hands of the prosecutor.

You may want to pursue both civil and criminal action against your abuser.

SOURCE: WomensLaw.org