The Massachusetts District Court And Boston Municipal Court System: Criminal Defense Law

How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Assist Me in the Boston Municipal Courts and the Massachusetts District Courts?

Boston criminal defense attorney Joe Serpa has nearly three decades of winning dismissals and acquittals for clients in the statewide Massachusetts District Courts and the Boston Municipal Courts (“BMC”) in central Boston, West Roxbury, Brighton, East Boston, Dorchester and Roxbury.

The Massachusetts District Courts and BMC hear the same kinds of criminal cases. These courts have identical “subject matter jurisdiction” (the types of crimes these courts can hear) in Massachusetts. These courts also hear a larger volume of criminal cases than the Massachusetts Superior Court. Individual courts’ locations in Boston and Massachusetts determine the “territorial jurisdiction” (the counties, towns or cities where the alleged offenses occurred) that these courts can hear.

Boston’s BMC and Massachusetts District Courts have jurisdiction over most criminal cases. Judges of these courts can punish defendant to sentences in the Massachusetts House of Correction but cannot sentence defendants to the Massachusetts State Prison. Sentences to the Massachusetts House of Correction are limited to a maximum of two-and-one-half years per offense. The Massachusetts State Prison can accept all sentences up to life in prison.

Every Massachusetts criminal offense has a maximum sentence written into the law specific to that offense. For example, an assault and battery can be punished with a maximum of two-and-one-half years in the house of correction and no minimum. These means that a judge can (although it is very rare) to sentence a person convicted in Massachusetts to that maximum period. It also means that a judge can, and often will, sentence a person to no imprisonment at all, and instead order probation or payment of fines or court fees.

Any term of imprisonment is an absolute last resort in a Massachusetts criminal cases. Our criminal defense clients always avoid conviction and especially periods of incarceration. Outright dismissals or acquittals are always the objective in our Massachusetts criminal defense cases. Judges in the BMC and Massachusetts District Courts often have many remedies available to address criminal cases, including dismissal, pretrial diversion, pretrial probation, a continuance without a finding (CWOF), probation after a guilty plea or after a guilty verdict.

Boston criminal attorney Joe Serpa has deep command over the meandering rules of how a criminal case can begin in the Massachusetts District Courts or Boston Municipal Courts. Criminal cases in the Boston Municipal Courts or the Massachusetts District Courts often begin with a private clerk magistrate’s hearing. This hearing is an opportunity to stop a public criminal case early on and save you from a criminal record. Other BMC or District Court cases begin with an arrest or a notice to appear for arraignment. Sometimes, the investigating Boston, local or State police can decide whether you will have an either clerk magistrate hearing, notice to appear for a Massachusetts arraignment or an arrest. However, certain offenses do not allow the police to arrest you.

Some offense require the police to begin with a private clerk’s hearing. Contact Boston criminal lawyer Joe Serpa for advice on whether your Massachusetts criminal case began correctly. Our experienced and skilled Boston criminal defense lawyer can get your cases dismissed if you were unfairly deprived of a clerk magistrate’s hearing in Massachusetts or if you were illegally arrested.

Criminal cases in the BMC or Massachusetts District Courts begin at arraignment, and are often followed by a sequence of future court dates. These dates are called Massachusetts pretrial conferences, compliance and election dates, motion hearings and trials, whether by judge or jury. Ordinarily, you must appear at all of these dates. However, Boston’s Serpa Law Office often secure permission from judges to have our clients “excused” from routine dates. That way, our criminal defense clients can go to works, travel, raise their kids and live their lives while we do the hard work of defending their Massachusetts criminal cases.

Ultimately, an effective Boston criminal defense attorney will achieve dismissal of your case early on. However, many Massachusetts criminal cases cannot be dismissed early on. Massachusetts’s district attorneys offices often have “zero tolerance” polices for certain offenses, particularly OUI | DUI and domestic violence offenses. Criminal defense attorney Joe Serpa often achieves dismissal or acquittal of these cases on dates scheduled for trial, often because witnesses do not appear to testify, or exercise various privileges against testifying. A Massachusetts criminal case must end on the date set for trial, whether by trial, a plea or dismissal.

Serpa Law Office explores every available opportunity for dismissal for every criminal defense client in the Boston Municipal Courts and the Massachusetts District Courts. Any plea, whether a CWOF or a guilty plea, is a last resort. Boston’s Serpa Law Office’s schedules trials as a rule for clients to pursue that every possible route to dismissal for our clients. Criminal defense attorney Joe Serpa routinely tries cases to not guilty verdicts for our clients in all sorts of offenses, with a winning trial record that is difficult to match.

Please give our Boston criminal defense law office a call at (617) 936-0201 to discuss the best possible outcome in your criminal defense case in the Massachusetts District Court or Boston Municipal Court.

Client Reviews

He's one of the best people I've met. I'm really appreciative of all the help I received. If you have a serious case, he'll work hard to make sure you have the best outcome. I highly recommend him. You will not be disappointed.


Mr. Serpa was very helpful with my family member ‘s case. He was able to get it dismissed quickly and easily. He is very professional and very good at what he does. I’m so glad he hired him. You will be glad too if you hire him.


Serpa law office was my attorney of choice for 2 seperate cases I had last year. With both situations, Joseph not only treated me great, delivered the results I was hoping for, and was extremely professional and genuine. I would definitely recommend this law office to anyone in need of legal help.


Contact Us

  1. 1 Individual, Hands-On Approach
  2. 2 Winning Trial Record
  3. 3 24+ Years Experience
Fill out the contact form or call us at 617.936.0201 to schedule your free consultation.

Leave Us a Message

We Accept the Following Payment Solutions