A District Attorney (D.A.) is the prosecuting officer of a criminal case (i.e., the official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses). They are elected officials and have several deputies beneath them who handle the day-to-day activities of criminal prosecution.
D.A.s typically make the determination about what, if any, criminal charges are filed. The police will make an arrest, but it's the district attorney who determines whether or not to prosecute. The decision to prosecute will be made after the D.A. does some investigation, and can take the form of a preliminary hearing or a grand jury. If the D.A. decides to proceed with the charges, then they will represent the State of Massachusetts in offering a plea bargain or in bringing the matter to trial.
Training and Outreach
A Massachusetts D.A.'s job doesn't just begin and end in the courtroom. While we've all seen crime shows or movies depicting prosecuting attorneys slaving away in a courtroom, D.A.s often spend time training police officers and conducting outreach within the communities they serve.
For instance, D.A.s may hold training sessions for their local police department on matters such as search and seizure law, criminal investigations, arrests, and more. D.A.s might also work with communities groups to identify and help stop human trafficking, handle domestic violence cases, or recent updates to Megan's Law requirements for sex offenders. Other common issues include prevention programs targeted at bullying and cyber-bullying, gang awareness, community-based justice, and even how to prevent sex assault on campus and in their community.
Massachusetts Attorney General's Office
While the District Attorney represents the state in all criminal prosecutions, typically involving crimes committed in the county where they will be prosecuted, the Attorney General represents the state in litigation by or against the state. The Attorney General can bring a criminal case, but often they work on civil litigation matters. When the states sued the tobacco companies for harms caused to their residents, it was the Attorney Generals' offices that brought the suit.
Massachusetts County District Attorney Offices
Massachusetts has an elected District Attorney for each judicial district. These districts can represent more than one county as you can see below in the list of District Attorneys.
Cape & Islands District Attorney (Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket)
Northwestern District Atty (Franklin & Hampshire)
Note: Although we strive to provide the most current contact and website information available for the D.A. offices in this state, this information is subject to change. If you have found contact or website information that is not current, please contact us.
Charged with a Criminal Offense? A Local Attorney Can Help
Is a Massachusetts district attorney claiming you violated the law? You might be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, but regardless, you should seek legal advice to help you better understand your rights and responsibilities. The best way to do that is to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney near you.