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Juvenile Court frequently asked questions in reference to COVID-19

Frequently asked questions about Juvenile Court's emergency measures in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

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1. Are the courts open for business?

Yes, the courts continue to be open to conduct emergency and non-emergency business. Beginning on July 13, 2020 courthouses will start to physically re-open to the public for limited purposes. Most court business will continue to be conducted virtually (by telephone, videoconference, email, or comparable means, or through the electronic filing system) wherever possible. Exceptions will continue to be made for matters that cannot be addressed virtually.

2. Which matters are considered emergency matters?

The following are considered emergency matters:

  • Care and Protection Petitions
  • Care and Protection Temporary Custody Hearing (G.L. c. 119, § 24) /72 Hour Hearing
  • Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) application where allegation is that the child is a runaway
  • Arraignments and dangerousness hearings (G.L. c 276, § 58A) for detained youth in delinquency and youthful offender proceedings
  • Motions for reconsideration of bail, bail revocation, and probation violation detainer hearings
  • Substance/alcohol use disorder proceedings (G.L. c. 123, §35)
  • Mental health proceedings (G.L. c. 123, §§7,8)
  • Harassment prevention proceedings (G.L. c. 258E)

To locate the appropriate courthouse for you, please go to, Find a courthouse serving you

3. What do I do if I have an emergency matter?

If you are a party to a proceeding that is considered an emergency matter, contact your attorney immediately if you are represented by counsel. If you are not represented by counsel, contact the court where your case is pending. These matters can be scheduled through the clerk's office. For virtual hearings, the matters are held, to the extent practicable, in a courtroom or court location that can be recorded and where the event can be docketed consistent with normal procedures, with parties and attorneys appearing remotely.

To locate the telephone number for the appropriate courthouse for you, please go to Find a courthouse serving you.

4. How do I file an emergency matter in court?

If a petitioner contacts the court regarding the filing of a petition on an emergency matter, the court shall make every effort to provide the petitioner with the petition without requiring the petitioner to appear in person at the court. Once the petition is completed and filed with the court, the court shall schedule the hearing. Either your court appointed counsel or the court will contact you to make the arrangements for the hearing

To locate the telephone number for the appropriate courthouse for you, please go to Find a courthouse serving you.

5. Are the courts hearing non-emergency matters?

Yes, the courts are able to hear non-emergency matters but priority is given to emergency hearings.

6. What are considered non-emergency matters?

The following are considered non-emergency matters:

  • In care and protection proceedings, temporary custody orders, orders for anti-psychotic medication and extraordinary medical treatment, petitions for do not resuscitate/withdrawing life-sustaining medical treatment, identification of subject children in care and protection matters, permanency hearings, hearings to nominate a custodian, and court investigator and guardian ad litem appointments
  • Adoptions
  • All guardianship matters including annual report reviews which will be conducted administratively by the court
  • In CRA matters, school based hearings are continued to a date after September 1, 2020. All other types of hearings will be heard where possible
  • In delinquency and youthful offender proceedings, probable cause hearings, tenders of plea, and summons arrangements

7. How do I file a non-emergency matter?

Petitioners can file new matters in non-emergency cases by mail, fax, e-mail, where available, or by dropping off the filing at a designated drop box at the appropriate court location, where available. Any petitioner should contact the appropriate court first by calling the clerk’s office of that court. The clerk’s office will instruct the petitioner on whether to mail, e-mail or drop off the petition.

To locate the telephone number for the appropriate courthouse near you, please go to, “Find a Courthouse Serving You”.

8. What do I do if I am unable to reach anyone in the clerk’s office by telephone?

If you are unable to reach anyone in the clerk’s office at a courthouse that is listed as being open, please call the Trial Court Help Line at 833-91COURT. Your call will be directed to the appropriate court.

You can also check the listing of court closures at, “Courthouse Closures due to COVID-19”.

9. What do I do if my local court is closed?

You should confirm that your local court is closed by checking the listing of court closures at, “Courthouse Closures due to COVID-19”. Once you have confirmed that your local court is closed, please call the Trial Court Help Line at 833-91COURT for assistance.

10. What if I had a previous court date scheduled?

Counsel or parties should contact the clerk’s office to determine if the scheduled event is going to take place, if it will take place virtually or in person, or if the event that has been continued to another date.

To locate the telephone number for the appropriate courthouse for you, please go to “Find a Courthouse Serving You”.

11. What if I had a trial date previously scheduled?

Jury trials in both criminal and civil cases in state courts are postponed to a date no earlier than September 8, 2020.  

Delinquency and youthful offender bench trials will be held in person unless all of the parties and trial judge agree to conduct the trial virtually. Priority will be given to those bench trials that had been scheduled to be held between March 16, 2020 and July 10, 2020 where the youth is detained pending trial.

Care and Protection bench trials may be held virtually at the discretion of the trial judge. Priority shall be given to those bench trials that had been scheduled to be held between March 16, 2020 and July 10, 2020.

12. What if I have a harassment protection order that is due to expire?

All emergency protection orders issued after notice that were due to expire on or after March 16, 2020 shall remain in effect until the matter is rescheduled and heard by the court.

Any orders issued prior to March 16th with a hearing that was scheduled are to remain in full force and effect until the matter is rescheduled and heard by the court unless the court terminates the order at an earlier date.

Any protection order issued at a hearing after notice, which was held virtually, may be issued up to the full statutory period.

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Last updated: July 1, 2020
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