lawrence criminal courtLawrence District Court
Fenton Judicial Center
2 Appleton Street
Lawrence, MA 01840
Phone: (978) 687-7184

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday
8:00 am – 4:30 pm.

Criminal Cases in the District Courts

Lawrence District Court

As a trial court, Lawrence District Court has local jurisdiction over criminal cases originating in Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover. The Court generally retains final jurisdiction and adjudicates criminal complaints for offenses punishable by up to 5 years of incarceration; including all misdemeanor crimes and violations of city/town ordinances.

However, local practice and Court procedure has effectively limited the District Courts to deciding criminal cases for which there is no recommended guideline at sentencing to the state’s correctional prison (Cedar Junction.)

If an operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OUI) incident occurred anywhere within the city limits of Andover, N. Andover, Lawrence or Methuen, it will be heard at the Lawrence District Court.

Hearing sessions begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. on weekdays in all District Courts.

salem district court essex countySalem District Court

Salem District Court
56 Federal Street
Salem, MA 01970
Phone: (978) 744-1167

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday
8:30 am – 4:30 pm.

The newly renovated Salem District Court is also known as the First District Court of Essex County. It has local jurisdiction over criminal complaints originating in Salem, Beverly, Danvers, Manchester by the Sea, and Middleton. As with the Lawrence Division, the Salem District Court will normally retain jurisdiction in criminal cases for which the offense is punishable by up to 5 years in a jail or House of Correction; including all misdemeanors and violations of city or town ordinances.

If you were arrested for a DUI/OUI within the geographical boundaries of Salem, Beverly, Danvers, Manchester by the Sea or Middleton, your case will be heard in Salem District Court.

Both District Courts along with all other Mass District Courts have particular practices and procedures. One example of this is the practice of CWOFs in criminal cases. CWOF stands for “continuance without a finding.” Exclusive to the District Courts, a CWOF can be negotiated through the Court and prosecutor on behalf of a first offender, although exceptions may be made in certain multiple offender cases.

Appearing in Essex County District Courts

Individuals charged with serious crimes are typically required to appear for each court date with their attorney. Offenses that have concurrent jurisdiction will begin in the District Court with a probable cause hearing. For example, a 3rd or higher OUI offense can be tried in either the District Court or the Superior Court. A locally experienced defense attorney can tell you what to expect at these and all other hearings as well as explain the legal implications to your case.

Hearing sessions begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. on weekdays in District Courts. For all Court appearances, it is critical that you leave and arrive early so you appear in Court on time.

You should make childcare arrangements so you do not have to bring your child to Court. Defendants should always be respectful in Court, address the judge as “your honor,” and wear clean and professional clothing. You should not wear any hats, sunglasses or earbuds upon entering the courtroom.

All personal electronic devices must be turned off and out-of-site upon entering the Courthouse. Phones can be set to silent mode, but must not be visible while inside the courtroom.

Essex County Judicial District

Essex County encompasses the cities of:  Lawrence, Lynn, Methuen, Newburyport, Peabody, Salem, Haverhill, Gloucester, Beverly, and Amesbury; and Andover, North Andover, Middleton, Danvers, Manchester by the Sea and several other townships.

Both Lawrence District Court and Salem District Court are in the Essex judicial county, and both cities are County seats.

The town of Salem is historically credited with holding the Country’s first special court when in 1692 the township was commissioned to establish a Special Court of Oyer and Terminer for the Salem witch trials.

Court and County Government Information

Mass.gov courts info and locator

Mass Offices / Agencies

District Court Dept.