Cambridge Criminal Defense Information

Cambridge Criminal Court Questions

I was arrested in Cambridge, where is the Court?

The Cambridge District Court is located at 4040 Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford, MA. [insert link]

Wait, what?! Why is the court in Medford?

The Cambridge District Court used to be in the high-rise court building in East Cambridge. However, in 2008 that building was deemed to be unsuitable for court business. The Court could not find an appropriate and affordable location in Cambridge; therefore, it settled for the Medford building.

The Courthouse in Medford, though lacking in traditional courthouse décor, is clean, functional, and possess ample parking. The downside is that the courthouse is difficult to reach by public transportation.

I was arrested in Arlington (or Belmont) and the Recognizance form tells me to go the Cambridge District Court, why is that?

 The Cambridge District Court’s jurisdiction includes the City of Cambridge, as well as the towns of Arlington and Belmont.

I was not arrested but I was given a piece of paper that tells me to appear, what should I do?

 That piece of paper is likely the summons; you MUST go to court on the specific date listed on the summons.

What happens if I don’t go to court?

 You will be considered “in default.” An arrest warrant will be issued. That warrant gives any police officer the right to arrest you, on the spot.

But the date listed on the summons is inconvenient for me, what can I do?

If you have a schedule conflict you can go to the Cambridge District Court Clerk’s Office before your scheduled court date and ask a clerk to change the court date. Or, you can ask your attorney to do that.

Ok, I am going to court, where do I go once I arrive? Is there a specific room? Do I have to check in?

First, you must check in at the probation department. Someone in that office will interview you. The purposes of this interview are to establish several factors – whether you have warrants from any other courts, whether you are on probation in any other courts, whether you have a criminal record, and whether you qualify for a court-appointed attorney.

If you already have an attorney be sure to ask her or him to accompany you to the probation interview.

Next, you will be told to go to Courtroom 1. That is the courtroom where all the arraignments (and many other criminal proceedings) are conducted.

What is an Arraignment?

An arraignment is the formal court proceeding where you will be officially charged with whatever crime(s) the government alleges you committed.

How many courtrooms are there in the Cambridge District Court?

 There are three. Courtroom1 handles all the criminal proceedings, except Motion Hearings and Jury Trials.

Courtroom 2 handles Motion Hearings and Civil business.

Courtroom 3 handles Jury Trials. 

My case is serious; I keep hearing that I’m getting “indicted.” What does that mean?

 Getting indicted means that your case will be presented to a Grand Jury, and, very likely, transferred to the Middlesex Superior Court.

Examples of Cases that go to Superior Court – Murder, Rape, Armed Robbery, Unarmed Robbery, Home Invasion, Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Kidnapping, Serious Sex Crimes, Serious Gun Charges, and most Major Felonies.

Where is the Middlesex Superior Court?

 The Middlesex Superior Court is located at 200 Trade Center, Woburn, MA. Similarly, this court used to be in the high-rise courthouse in East Cambridge.

How Will I Know if my Case is Going to Superior Court?

 In most instances your case will begin in the District Court. You will have a lawyer (whether you can afford one or not). Your lawyer should inform you of the prosecutor’s intention to “indict” or not. If your case is going to Superior Court you will be told of the arraignment date in that court.