Overview of the issue
The Legal System in New York State is divided into two areas: Civil Law and Criminal Law. Separate courts govern these two areas of law:
- Civil Law handles cases where neither party is accused of having committed a crime. In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking for protection from your abuser, not punishment of your abuser.
- The Criminal Law system deals with all cases involving violations of criminal law and requires pressing criminal charges against your abuser.
Please refer to the Unified Court System’s website for more detailed information about the New York State Court System and structure.
Learn more about the courts and the police.
- Tools for Professionals
- Tools for Victims - If you need an attorney you can apply for a pro bono attorney through a program within your community