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Facing a felony in Massachusetts can have long-standing ramifications, including but not limited to an effect on a person's job, employability, housing, voting rights, and citizenship.  Therefore, it is important to know the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor.  A felony is a crime which may result in a state prison sentence.  M.G.L. c. 274, § 1.  All other crimes are considered misdemeanors.  It is only possible to get a state prison sentence if the felony is being prosecuted in one of the Superior Courts of Massachusetts.

There are numerous different types of felony charges in Massachusetts.  For instance, a felony assault and battery is an assault and battery with an aggravating factor, such as the use of a dangerous weapon or a resulting serious bodily injury.  Many felony classes can be prosecuted in both the Superior Courts and District Courts of Massachusetts because many felony charges have concurrent jurisdiction, meaning that the Massachusetts felony carries both a state prison and a house of corrections alternative for punishment.  Some examples of felonies with concurrent jurisdiction are as follows:

  • Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon

  • Breaking and Entering in the Nighttime with the Intent to Commit a Felony

  • OUI, 3rd Offense - 5th Offense

  • OUI and Negligence Causing Serious Bodily Injury

  • OUI and Negligence Causing Death

  • Indecent Assault and Battery

  • Larceny Over $1200

  • Strangulation or Suffocation

  • Carrying a Firearm

Felony charges that do not have concurrent jurisdiction, such as Rape, Armed Robbery, Trafficking, or Home Invasion, can only be prosecuted in the Superior Courts of Massachusetts.  If the District Attorney's Office seeks to prosecute those types of charges, which are known as bind-over felonies, then the allegations must be presented to the Grand Jury for a possible indictment.  So long as the Grand Jury finds probable cause for the charges, then the matter will proceed in the Superior Court.  However, if the District Attorney's Office determines that it does not wish to prosecute a bind-over felony in the Superior Court, then the normal procedure would be for the bind-over felony to be amended to a lesser-included offense that has jurisdiction in the District Courts.  For example, a charge of Rape that remains in the District Court would often be amended to Indecent Assault and Battery.  There are various reasons why the District Attorney's Office would decline to prosecute a bind-over felony in the Superior Court and elect to keep the matter in the District Court.  It could be because there are issues with the victim/witnesses, the defendant has a limited record or had minimal participation in the offense, or because there are identifiable weaknesses in the case.

If you are charged with a felony in Massachusetts, it is important to hire a lawyer who is experienced in litigating different felony classes in both the Superior Courts and the District Courts.  Attorney Michael Thaler has handled all manner of felony cases in the courts of the Commonwealth as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney from the beginning of an investigation through trial.  Reach out to Attorney Thaler at 781-366-0806 or for a free consultation to discuss your case and the best way to proceed.

To set up a free consultation, or for general inquiries, please use this form:

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