Who can appeal a traffic ticket decision?

Find out if you’re eligible to appeal a court decision on a traffic ticket.

Table of Contents

Can I appeal the magistrate’s decision?

Civil violations

If you were only ticketed for civil violations, you can appeal to a judge, but you have to do it immediately, before the end of the magistrate's hearing. The magistrate may give you additional time to decide whether to appeal, if you ask for it. You have to pay a non-refundable $50 appeal fee to the clerk-magistrate's office before a judge will hear your appeal. If you can’t pay the fee, you can fill out an application (available in the clerk-magistrate’s office) to waive the filing fee.

Criminal violations

If you were ticketed for any criminal violations, you can’t appeal the magistrate's decision to issue a criminal complaint. Your only option is to file a motion to dismiss the criminal complaint, if you have good cause to do this, when you're brought before a judge.

Can the police appeal the magistrate’s decision?

Civil violations

If you were only ticketed for civil violations, the police can appeal a decision made in your favor to a judge. Since this isn't a criminal matter, rules about double jeopardy don't apply.

Criminal violations

If you were ticketed for any criminal violations, the police can ask a judge to reconsider a magistrate's decision not to issue a criminal complaint for all or some criminal violations. The judge can choose to reconsider the magistrate's decision, but doesn’t have to. Since this is a preliminary hearing and not a trial, rules about double jeopardy don't apply.

Who can appeal a judge’s decision?

Civil violations

If you were only ticketed for civil violations, you or the police can appeal the judge's decision to the Appellate Division of the District Court or Boston Municipal Court (BMC), but only for suspected errors of law — for example, the meaning of a statute, or whether the evidence was adequate. You can't appeal questions of facts — for example, whether you were speeding, based on conflicting evidence.

You must file any appeal to the Appellate Division within 10 days after the judge has found you responsible (weekends, and holidays are included, but if the 10th day falls on a weekend or holiday, you can file your appeal on the next business day). The court can't extend the 10-day appeal period. 

File the Claim of Appeal form (which you can get from any clerk-magistrate’s office) with the non-refundable $180 filing fee at the clerk-magistrate's office. If you can’t pay the fee, you can fill out an application to waive it. If you're not eligible for the waiver, you'll be given time to pay the filing fee or appeal that decision.

In the Appellate Division, a panel of 2 judges will review whether the judge's decision was legally correct, but they won’t review the facts the judge determined.

Criminal violations

If you were ticketed for any criminal violations, you can’t appeal the judge's decision to issue a criminal complaint. If you later file a motion to dismiss the criminal complaint and it's denied by a judge, you can mention that denial as part of any appeal to the Appeals Court if you're found guilty

Additional Resources

Can I appeal the Appellate Division’s decision?

You can appeal the Appellate Division's decision to the Appeals Court within 30 days. You'll have to pay a filing fee of $300, unless it's waived by the Appeals Court because you can’t pay and are eligible for the waiver.

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