Criminal charges can be brought in District Court, Superior Court, or Federal Court (U.S. District Court). In each county in Massachusetts there are multiple District Courts set up to handle the lesser crimes (misdemeanors and lesser felonies) on a town-by-town basis. Often, a District Court will service a few of the towns in the surrounding area. Each county also has a Superior Court to handle the more serious felonies in that county. Some felonies (such as murder or armed robbery) may only be prosecuted in Superior Court, although the District Attorney’s Office may choose to indict any crime to Superior Court. The U.S. District Court for Massachusetts is in Boston, and handles federal crimes that have been indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Misdemeanors are lesser crimes, and are defined as any crime for which the maximum penalty is a fine or House of Correction sentence. Felonies are more serious crimes, and are punishable by incarceration in prison.