Massachusetts state court system

Understanding how the system of Massachusetts state court works is very important as it helps you find court records easily.

Massachusetts Courts Overview

To make your work easier, start searching for court records in Massachusetts by simply going to courts by county.

The trial court system of Massachusetts State consists of Land Court, Boston Municipal Courts, Juvenile Courts, Housing Courts, Probate and Family Courts, District Courts, and Superior Courts.

Superior Courts

Massachusetts Superior Courts have general jurisdiction to handle all criminal and civil cases, but typically handles only the cases that other courts have no jurisdiction to handle.

Generally, these courts hear criminal cases that have a potential sentence that exceeds 5 years imprisonment or those cases that are considered to be serious felonies. They also handle many Abuse Prevention cases, except for the cases that arise exclusively from an engagement or a dating relationship.

General civil cases that Superior Courts handle include civil claims for more than $25,000 in dispute. The courts also hear some landlord-tenant cases of any financial limits.

Besides, these courts also handle certain claims that have been made by Massachusetts Sate, many claims against the Sate, many cases seeking equitable relief, and some cases with real estate issues. Superior Courts also have jurisdiction over real estate cases, Abuse prevention, and certain criminal cases with other courts.

District Courts

Massachusetts District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases. Apart from downtown Boston, these courts serve the entire Massachusetts.

General cases that these courts hear include felony offenses with possible punishment of not more than five years of incarceration, and other types of preliminary and felony hearings. Violations of town and city ordinances and most misdemeanors are also handled by District Courts.

Typical civil cases that these courts handle include general civil claims for disputed amount being less than $25,000. Landlord-tenant cases are also handled by these courts without any limitation on the disputed amount.

Probate and Family Courts

These courts have exclusive jurisdiction to handle certain types of cases. The cases they handle include guardianships, adoption, probate matters, abuse prevention, and domestic relations.

The typical cases that Probate and Family Courts handle include abuse prevention, annulment or affirmation of marriage, name changes, administration  of state, termination of parental rights, paternity, the probate of wills, child support and child custody.

Housing Courts

These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over real property, cases involving health and safety of the residents, and goods and services related to real property.

Typical cases handled by Housing Courts are those that arise from violations of local and state law, including sanitation codes, building codes, and other laws connected to health, safety, and welfare of occupants, the general public and owners.

Juvenile Courts

These courts have exclusive jurisdiction to handle certain types of cases, including child protection, juvenile delinquency, guardianship, termination of parental rights, adoption, and some criminal cases that involve minors.

Boston Municipal Courts

These courts share limited jurisdiction with District Courts, with certain extra jurisdiction for some types of cases.

Typical criminal cases that Boston Municipal Courts hear include felonies with possible punishment of not more than five years of incarceration, preliminary hearings for felony cases of all types, and other types of felonies. Civil cases include many general civil claims for disputed amount being less than $25,000.

Also handled by Boston Municipal Courts are mental health cases, Abuse Prevention, some cases involving appeals of decisions by administrative agencies, some cases seeking equitable relief, money judgments enforcement.

Land Court

Land Court operates from a location in Boston, and it serves the entire state. It has exclusive jurisdiction over cases related to real estate. However, it typically handles only certain types of cases related to real estate, including partition actions, and some redemption and foreclosure actions connected to titles.

Land Court also shares jurisdiction with other courts over some specific types of cases. It doesn’t offer trials by jury.

The Official Website of Massachusetts County

Boston Boston
Worcester City of Worcester, MA Welcome to the official governmental website for the City of Worcester, MA. Here you will find all city administration, services and information related to Worcester.
Springfield City of Springfield
Lowell
Cambridge Welcome to the City of Cambridge – City of Cambridge, MA Find all you need to know about living in, working in, and visiting the city of Cambridge.
New Bedford City of New Bedford Official Website
Brockton City of Brockton Home Page for the City of Brockton
Quincy Quincy, MA
Lynn City of Lynn Website Mayor Thomas M. McGee welcomes you to the official website of Lynn, Massachusetts.
Fall River Official Municipal Website of the City of Fall River, Massachusetts Official Municipal Website of the City of Fall River, Massachusetts
Newton Newton, MA
Lawrence Lawrence, MA | Official Website
Somerville City of Somerville
Framingham City of Framingham, MA Official Website
Haverhill Welcome to Haverhill, MA Welcome to Haverhill, MA
Middlesex County Courthouse Locator | Mass.gov Find out which courts serve your city or town.
Worcester County Massachusetts District Attorney Association | Mass.gov MDAA is an independent state agency whose mission is to support the eleven elected Massachusetts District Attorneys and their staff, including approximately 785 prosecutors and 260 victim-witness advocates.
Essex County Essex County, Massachusetts
Suffolk County Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association | Mass.gov MSA improves public safety by promoting greater understanding of issues impacting sheriffs' offices and by bringing together law enforcement and criminal justice professionals.
Norfolk County Norfolk County Welcome to the website of the County of Norfolk, Massachusetts, the County of Presidents! This site provides information and links to County departments, city and town governments, and related agencies.
Bristol County County Of Bristol | Founded in 1685
Plymouth County Official Website of Plymouth County, Massachusetts The official website of Plymouth County, Massachusetts; Visit our Plymouth County office at 44 Obery Street, Plymouth, MA 02360
Hampden County Hampden County Registry of Deeds
Barnstable County Learn more about Barnstable County | Regional Government for Cape Cod : Barnstable County Welcome to Cape Cod's Regional Government, Barnstable County. Find information regarding our services to the fifteen towns, including departments, legislative and executive branches.
Hampshire County Visit Western Massachusetts Near Northampton and Amherst Welcome to Hampshire County, the heart of the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts. Explore things to do near Northampton, Amherst and Easthampton.
Berkshire County Massachusetts District Attorney Association | Mass.gov MDAA is an independent state agency whose mission is to support the eleven elected Massachusetts District Attorneys and their staff, including approximately 785 prosecutors and 260 victim-witness advocates.
Franklin County Town of Franklin MA
Dukes County Dukes County, MA
Nantucket County Nantucket, MA – Official Website