Understanding the Criminal Court Process

Find guidance and information to help you understand more about the criminal court process and criminal cases. This information can't replace advice from an attorney.

Massachusetts courts resolve more than 235,000 criminal cases each year. The fact that a person is charged with an offense doesn't necessarily mean that they committed the crime. Guilt must be determined by a judge or jury. The most serious cases, the ones that often result in a prison sentence of more than 2.5 years, are usually heard in Superior Court, and the less serious cases are usually heard in District Court.

A criminal conviction can result in going to prison or jail, as well as other serious consequences. A few examples of other consequences include getting deported if you’re not a U.S. citizen, losing public housing benefits, and the not being able to get a student loan. These pages include a variety of links to legal help, including free assistance.

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