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Understanding the Criminal Court Process

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

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has 63 district courts and 20 superior courts that resolve more than 235,000 criminal cases each year. The fact that a person is charged with an offense doesn't mean that he or she 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 two and a half years, are usually heard in superior court, and the less serious cases are usually heard in district court.


A criminal conviction can result in imprisonment as well as other serious consequences. A few examples of other consequences include the risk of deportation if you not a United States citizen, the loss of public housing benefits, and the inability to obtain a student loan. Included in this website are a variety of links to legal help including assistance that is provided free of charge.

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