Massachusetts Court Records
What Are Massachusetts Traffic Court Records?
Massachusetts State traffic court records are the legal documents and case files created, from the proceedings of the traffic courts in the state of Massachusetts. These include records related to moving violations and non-moving under the motor vehicle code of the state of Massachusetts.
Are Massachusetts Traffic Court Records Public Records?
Under the public access to information law, all Massachusetts traffic court records deemed as public records may be accessed and viewed by members of the public; the only exception to this being where these records have been restricted from public access by a judge or the law.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in Massachusetts.
A Massachusetts traffic ticket or Massachusetts Uniform Citation is a ticket issued for a traffic violation in the state of Massachusetts. It is a five-page computer-generated document, with copies for the courts, agency, Registry of Motor Vehicles, offender and officer and issued by law enforcement officers. It portrays the sworn statement of the officer regarding the violation, as witnessed by the officer, and will be filled in by the officer at the location of the violation.
The ticket will contain the alleged violator’s details including full name, social security number, date of birth and addresses. Details of the motor vehicle involved in the violation and information of the offender’s license will be included. A description of the alleged offense will also be written on the ticket along with the monetary assessment for the offense. Date, time and location of the alleged violation will also be listed on the ticket.
Massachusetts traffic violations and infractions can be described as either civil or criminal and this will be identified on the ticket for each violation cited. Civil violations do not require a court appearance, but criminal violations do. Information for responding to the citation, whether civil or criminal is available on the reverse of the ticket. Upon receipt of the citation, you are required to sign the ticket as an acknowledgment of the charges against before receiving your copy. This is not viewed as an admission of guilt in the eyes of the law.
Civil violations are minor traffic infractions and can be resolved by fine payments. Criminal violations are more serious offenses, can include misdemeanors and even felonies, and must be settled in court. Convictions for criminal violations will be seen as criminal convictions.
Traffic tickets in Massachusetts, whether civil or criminal, are accompanied for fines and can also come to include added penalties and court fees depending on the choices made. Massachusetts utilizes a driving record points system, so penalty points will be added to your record for each conviction and which can lead to a license suspension or possible revocation by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Fines are pre-determined by local laws and statutes for civil offenses but are set by the court for criminal offenses, so there will be differences in the fines. Information about contesting the charge (civil or criminal) will also be included on the ticket.
Traffic violations are also differentiated as Moving and Non-Moving Violations. Non-moving violations are infractions that occur while the vehicle is not in motion such as faulty vehicle equipment while moving violations include all infractions and crimes committed while the car is moving.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Massachusetts?
Actions taken when you receive a traffic ticket in Massachusetts will depend on whether the offense is classified as civil or criminal. If you receive a ticket, and the checkbox for “All Civil Infractions” is marked, then your offenses are classified as civil offenses and you can choose to either
- Pay the traffic ticket.
- Appeal Ticket
If you choose to pay your ticket, you have conceded to all the charges, accepting responsibility for the violation and agreeing to all associated penalties, including all fines, fees, and surcharges that may accrue. You also waive your right to challenge the ticket in court. Instructions on how to proceed are available on the reverse of the ticket and you should do this within 20 days of receiving the ticket to preserve your right to appeal and avoid extra consequences. The ticket can be paid in person at the RMV office or via mail, using the instructions on the back of the ticket or the RMV website. You will require the citation number, your driver’s license and proof of insurance and the amount which would have been filled in by the officer.
If you choose to appeal the ticket, then you must mark the appropriate checkbox, sign the citation and mail it into the address on the back of the ticket to request for a hearing. You will need to include payment for court filing fees. You can also appeal the ticket on the RMV website. A hearing will be scheduled and you will be duly informed. You will get the opportunity to plead your case in front of a clerk magistrate. It is advisable to seek professional assistance. If you are found responsible then you will liable for the ticket fines and any added penalties. This will be seen as a conviction and will result in points being added to your driving record. If you are found not responsible then you will be freed of all liabilities and refunded your court filing fees.
If you receive a ticket and the “Criminal Application” checkbox is marked, then you must sign the citation and return to the Magistrate clerk of the court named in the citation within 4 days of issuance of the ticket to preserve your right to appeal. A hearing will be held to determine whether a criminal complaint should be set against you. If it is decided there is no cause for a complaint against you then the charges will be dismissed. If it is decided there is probable cause against you, then you will be arraigned before a court to answer the charges. Fines and penalties accruable will be set by the judge. It is most advisable to retain an attorney if you are cited with a criminal violation.
If you were given a warning by the officer (checkbox designated Warning above the Officer’s signature is marked), then this means that the officer has let you go and nothing needs to be done.
How Do I Find Massachusetts Traffic Court Records?
Traffic court records in Massachusetts are generally available on the county court’s website or third-party websites. Physical access can be granted to the general public, but the interested person would need to request access from the office of the county court clerk. One can receive access to physical traffic court records from any court if the applicant visits the court clerk’s office where records are filed. If copies are needed, the applicant may be required to pay court fees but will be able to view the records free of charge.
Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
What Information is Required to Obtain Massachusetts Traffic Court Records?
Persons interested in obtaining traffic court records must provide necessary information about the traffic court records being requested such as the full name of the person, social security number and date of birth. Where needed, payments might be requested to facilitate the provision of the records. Persons interested in obtaining traffic records will also need to provide a valid ID for verification before receiving the records.
Are all Traffic Violations Handled the same way in Massachusetts?
The processes associated with responding to a citation for a traffic violation differ for civil and criminal violations. However all civil traffic violations are handled in the same way and all criminal traffic violations are also handled in the same manner, regardless of the offense in the citation. Criminal violation charges may or may not result in your arrest.
Can Massachusetts Traffic Records be Sealed or Expunged?
Massachusetts clerk magistrate hearings do not appear on the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI), so civil traffic violations do not appear on your record and have no need to be expunged or sealed.
Criminal traffic violations do however appear on CORI. Misdemeanor criminal convictions require a 3-year waiting period, before an application to seal the record can be made. Felony criminal convictions require a 7-year waiting period, before an application to seal the record can be made. Applications to have records sealed can be denied. If you had your case dismissed, you are eligible to ask for the record to be sealed.
Expungement of criminal records in Massachusetts requires you show a serious error or fault, such as a case of mistaken identity, which has led to you being charged with a crime or a fraud was perpetrated by the court. This is a highly unusual occurrence.
How to go to Massachusetts Traffic court?
You end up in a Massachusetts state traffic court if after receiving a traffic ticket (citation) from a law enforcement officer and he indicates on the ticket there is a criminal application. This occurs when the offense is serious and you will need to appear in court to resolve the charges. You can also end up in traffic court if the ticketing officer indicates the charges are civil violations but you wish to appeal the charges. A court appearance will be required to enter the plea as it must be done before the magistrate clerk.
Which Courts in Massachusetts have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
In Massachusetts, civil traffic case hearings are assigned for hearing to the Magistrate clerk of the municipal district or county court where the violation was alleged to have occurred. Criminal case hearings are also assigned to the Magistrate clerk, but if probable cause is found against you, then the case will be head by the municipal district or county judge.