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Find out who can appeal a traffic ticket decision

Learn if you're eligible to appeal a court decision on a traffic ticket.

Appealing the magistrate's decision

Civil violations

If you were only cited for civil violations, you can appeal to a judge, but you must do it immediately and before the end of the magistrate's hearing. The magistrate may allow you some additional time to consider whether to appeal if you request it. You must pay a non-refundable $50 appeal fee to the clerk-magistrate's office before your appeal to a judge is heard. If you're indigent, you may fill out an application, available in the clerk-magistrate’s office, to waive the filing fee.

Criminal violations

If you were cited for any criminal violations, you may not 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 grounds for doing so, when you're brought before a judge.

Police appealing the magistrate's decision

Civil violations

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

Criminal violations

If you were cited for any criminal violations, the police may request a judge to reconsider a magistrate's decision not to issue a criminal complaint for all or some criminal violations. The judge may choose to reconsider the magistrate's decision, but isn't required to do so. Since this is a preliminary hearing and not a trial, constitutional rules about double jeopardy don't apply.

Appealing a judge's decision

Civil violations

If you were only cited for civil violations, you (or the police) may appeal the judge's decision to the Appellate Division of the District Court or Boston Municipal Court, but only for alleged errors of law — for example, the meaning of a statute, or whether the evidence was minimally adequate. You may not appeal a question of fact — for example, whether or not 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. (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are included, but if the tenth day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, you can file your appeal on the next business day.) The court doesn't have authority to extend the 10-day appeal period. Your appeal must be filed with the clerk-magistrate's office on the "claim of appeal" form, which you can get from any clerk-magistrate's office. You must include the non-refundable $180 Appellate Division filing fee with your appeal. If you're indigent, you may fill out an application to waive the filing fee. If you're not eligible for the waiver, you'll be given time to pay the filing fee or to appeal that decision.

In the Appellate Division, a panel of 2 judges will review the legal correctness of the judge's decision, but not the judge's factual determinations.

Criminal violations

If you were cited for any criminal violations, you may not 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 may raise that denial as part of any appeal to the Appeals Court if you're found guilty.

Additional Resources

Appealing the Appellate Division's decision

You can appeal the Appellate Division's decision to the Massachusetts 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're indigent.

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