This page, Mass. General Laws c.277 § 70C, is offered by

Mass. General Laws c.277 § 70C

Treatment of violation of ordinance, by-law or misdemeanor offense as a civil infraction

This is an unofficial version of a Massachusetts General Law. For more information on this topic, please see law about criminal law and procedure.

Table of Contents


  • Amended by St.2010, c. 267, §§ 70, 71
  • Amended by St.2018, c. 69, §§ 203 to 205
  • Amended by St.2018, c. 273, § 24, effective October 23, 2018

Section 70C

Upon oral motion by the commonwealth or the defendant at arraignment or pretrial conference, or upon the court's own motion at any time, the court may, unless the commonwealth objects, in writing, stating the reasons for such objection, treat a violation of a municipal ordinance, or by-law or a misdemeanor offense as a civil infraction. This section shall not apply to the offenses in sections 22F, 24, 24D, 24G, 24L and 24N of chapter 90, sections 8, 8A and 8B of chapter 90B, sections 34, 36, 39, 51A, 51E, 51F, 55, 63 and 63A of chapter 119, chapter 119A, chapter 209, chapter 209A, chapter 265, section 25 of chapter 266, sections 1, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 6B, 8B, 13, 13A, 13B, 13C, 14, 14B, 15, 15A, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 28, 31 and 36 of chapter 268, chapter 268A, sections 10, 10A, 10C, 10D, 10E, 11B, 11C, 11E, 12, 12A, 12B, 12D and 12E of chapter 269 and sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 4B, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 16, 28, 29A and 29B of chapter 272. If a motion to proceed civilly is allowed, the court shall not appoint counsel. If counsel has already been appointed, the court shall revoke the appointment. A person complained of for such civil infraction shall be adjudicated responsible upon such finding by the court and shall not be sentenced to any term of incarceration. The commonwealth shall maintain a copy of all objections filed under this section and shall report the number of such objections, delineated by divisions of the district court, every 6 months to the house and senate committees on ways and means.

When the court has treated a violation of a municipal ordinance or by-law or a misdemeanor offense as a civil infraction under this section and the ordinance, by-law or misdemeanor in question does not set forth a civil fine as a possible penalty, the court may impose a fine of not more than $5,000. An adjudication of responsibility shall neither be used in the calculation of second and subsequent offenses under any chapter, nor as the basis for the revocation of parole or of a probation surrender. An adjudication of responsibility under this section may include an order of restitution.



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email


Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: June 12, 2019