In Massachusetts, the superior courts has jurisdiction over all criminal cases. Meaning that the superior court is allowed to deal with any criminal charges. Conversely, the district court has limited jurisdiction. That means, the district court can deal with misdemeanors and only certain felonies. The district court does have initial jurisdiction over all criminal matters. Therefore, a defendant being charged with murder could be arraigned in district court. However, the district court cannot sentence a person on murder charges.
Another significant difference between the Massachusetts district and superior courts is the power to sentence. The district court can only sentence defendants to jail or the house of corrections. The district court does not have the power to sentence a defendant to state prison. It should also be noted that a district court juvenile court can sentence a youthful offender to state prison. The district court can only sentence a defendant to up to 2 1/2 years in jail. However, a district court judge can sentence a defendant to 2 1/2 years in jail for each charge. That means if a defendant is facing 4 charges, with each charge having a maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years, the judge could sentence the defendant to a maximum of 10 years in jail.
Call Attorney Jason Chan to talk about your case today at 508-808-8902.