Massachusetts law about sentencing, probation, and parole

Guidelines and reports

Guidelines for probation violation proceedings in the Superior Court

Sentencing best practices, Mass. Trial Court, 2016.
Reports of working groups in BMC, District, Juvenile, and Superior Courts, with information regarding the purposes of sentencing and the empirically-based effect of sentences and probationary terms on recidivism.

Sentencing guidelines, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, 2017.

Massachusetts laws

Master Crime List, Mass. Sentencing Commission.
Lists felonies and misdemeanors first by MGL reference, and then alphabetically by offense, specifying the penalty type and sentencing information. Easiest way to find penalties for particular offenses.

St. 2022, c.126 § 104 Removed the sections requiring probation fees
As of July 1, 2022 there are no longer any monthly probation fees and any fees paid after that date will be refunded.

MGL c.22E, § 3 DNA collection required upon felony conviction; probation officers have authority to take sample

MGL c.27, § 5 Parole Board

MGL c.123, § 16 Hospitalization of persons incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental illness; see Garcia v. Commonwealth

MGL c.127, § 119A Medical parole

MGL c.127, § 129D Good time credit for state prison sentences is 7.5 days per program per month

MGL c.127, §§ 151A-151N Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision

MGL c.276, § 58A (1) “The commonwealth may move, based on dangerousness, for an order of pretrial detention…[for a person] arrested and charged with a violation of paragraph (a), (c), or (m) of section 10 of chapter 269 [illegal weapons].”

MGL c.276, §§ 83-103 Probation officers

MGL c.276, § 87B Eligible offenders can earn probation compliance credits that reduce the length of post-disposition probation supervision

MGL c.278, § 18 Continued without a finding, nolo contendere, specific dispositions

MGL c.279 Judgment and execution

MGL c.279, § 25 Habitual offender (3 strikes)

Massachusetts regulations

103 CMR 410 Sentence computation

103 CMR 411 Deduction from sentence 

120 CMR Parole Board regulations

501 CMR 17 Medical parole

Court rules

Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 28 Judgment

Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 29 Revise and revoke

Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 31 Stay of execution; relief pending review automatic expiration of stay

Uniform Magistrate Rules: Rule 6: Preliminary probation revocation hearings

District/Municipal Courts Rules for Probation Violation Proceedings

Selected cases

Web sources

In general


Probation and parole

  • About probation, Mass. Probation Service.
    A probation sentence, sometimes called community supervision, gives you the opportunity to stay in the community, work, and be with your family and friends with specific conditions instead of being sentenced to prison or the house of correction. A probation officer will be assigned to help and monitor you during your time on probation.
  • Adult Compact version 2, Council of State Governments.
    Concise article explaining the interstate compact for tracking and supervising parolees and probationers that move between states.
  • ELMO (Electronic Monitoring Program) information, Mass. Probation Service.
    Find out how the Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and remote breath alcohol monitoring devices used for probation work.
  • Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision
    Site includes rules, bylaws, advisory opinions, bench book for judges and court personnel, forms, and more. Everything you need to know to transfer supervision to another state.
  • Parole records and hearings, Parole Board.
    Find information about parole hearings and life sentence parole hearings.
  • Surveys of Massachusetts sentencing practices, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission. 

Pardon and commutation

  • Executive clemency guidelines, Gov. Baker, 2020. 
    Provides guidance on the requirements to be considered for a pardon or commutation, with emphasis on key points of interest to the Advisory Board of Pardons. 
  • Executive clemency overview, Mass. Parole Board.
    Explains the difference between pardon and commutation, with guidelines and petitions.
  • Massachusetts restoration of rights & record relief, Restoration of Rights Project, 2022.
    Provides a detailed summary of law and procedure on pardons, firearms and expungement under new marijuana law.

Criminal law, 3rd ed., (Mass. practice v.32), West Pub Co., 2001 with supplement.

LexisNexis practice guide: Massachusetts criminal law, Lexis, annual.  Chapters 8, 9, 10.

Sentencing, probation and parole, MCLE, 2018.

Standards of the Massachusetts Probation Service, Probation Service, 2011.