Bureaus of the Suffolk DA’s Office
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office serves the cities and towns of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, Massachusetts, handling more than 25,000 new criminal cases each year in nine district and municipal courts, Suffolk Superior Court, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court, and the Boston Juvenile Court. Our main office is located at One Bulfinch Place in downtown Boston. With approximately 300 employees, including about 150 lawyers, we are among the largest and busiest district attorney’s offices in New England. But as you’ll learn as you navigate through this site, we do more than prosecute cases. We offer a wide range of services and programs to serve everyone who comes in contact with the criminal justice system and to educate the public about important crime prevention and safety issues.
District and Municipal Court Division
As part of its overall mission of serving victims and protecting citizens of the county, District Attorney Rollins’ office maintains a presence in nine district and municipal courts throughout Suffolk County. Operated by the Trial Court of the Commonwealth, these courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanors and some felonies, and the vast majority of criminal cases handled by our office are resolved here. Each courthouse has a team of assistant district attorneys, victim witness advocates, investigators, and administrative staff who are dedicated to serving victims and communities while holding criminal offenders accountable.
The City of Boston is served by eight municipal courts. They are located in the downtown area, Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, South Boston, Roxbury, and West Roxbury. Cases arising in Winthrop are directed to East Boston, while the cities of Chelsea and Revere are served by Chelsea District Court. Some of these courts have juvenile sessions for offenders under the age of 18; courts without a juvenile session send their cases to the Boston Juvenile Court downtown.
Specialty Court Teams
Suffolk prosecutors are assigned to the Mental Health Court, Drug Court, Homeless Court, and the Boston Veterans’ Treatment Court sessions in Suffolk County. These specialized sessions utilize court supervision to help vulnerable populations comply with treatment plans, maintain sobriety, and resolve their low-level cases with intervention rather than incarceration.
Superior Court Division
Most felonies committed in Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop are tried in Suffolk Superior Court, located in the Suffolk County Courthouse in Pemberton Square, Boston. The District Attorney determines which cases go to Superior Court – where convictions result in more serious punishments – based on the severity and complexity of the crime committed or the criminal history of the defendant.
The Superior Court Division is comprised of a number of specialized units, most dedicated to a particular type of crime. The prosecutors, advocates, investigators, and administrative staff assigned to these units are highly-trained men and women who are dedicated to achieving justice for victims and their families. They will often assist district court prosecutors with especially complex cases.
Members of the Appellate Division ensure that the cases and evidence brought before Suffolk County juries are strong and fair enough to withstand review by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, and the Supreme Court of the United States. As the busiest appellate team in the state, its members undertake exhaustive legal research, defend properly-won verdicts and judgments, examine and act on wrongful conviction claims, challenge judicial error, and help draft legislation. They often work side-by-side with trial lawyers from every level of the office to address any questions of law, procedure, and precedent that may arise — from the investigative stage all the way through trial. Cases argued by the Appellate Division frequently result in the establishment of new case law serving the interests of justice across the Commonwealth.
High Risk Victims Unit
The staff of the High Risk Victims Unit works with older adults and persons with physical or developmental disabilities who have been victimized by crime. Prosecutors and advocates know the importance of investigating and trying these cases in such a way as to maintain the dignity of the victims while ensuring that offenders are held accountable for their crimes. While crime can affect anyone regardless of age, some offenders target senior citizens with financial scams that can have a terrible impact on one’s finances and savings. High Risk Victims Unit prosecutors and advocates are familiar with many of these schemes and work to prevent as well as prosecute them.
Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau
The Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau encompasses the Child Protection Team, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, and the Human Trafficking Unit. These units investigate and prosecute some of the most challenging cases handled by the office, and members of these units are committed to resolving them with discretion and compassion for the victims. Prosecutors, advocates, and investigators assigned to the Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau know it is often difficult for victims to report intimate partner violence or child abuse, and they are dedicated to making the process as safe and streamlined as possible for those who have been victimized. While individual crimes may occur against a child or family member, our office strives to aid in the well-being of the entire family by providing services to everyone affected by physical and sexual violence. Members of the Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau have fostered important relationships and partnerships with outside agencies and providers, in an effort to get victims and their families all of the assistance they may need.
Major Felony Bureau
The Major Felony Bureau is comprised of two teams of Superior Court-qualified prosecutors, advocates, and investigators who handle a wide variety of cases that warrant indictment because of the facts or the offender’s prior record. Whether it’s a shooting, a stabbing, a motor vehicle offense with serious injury, or a series of armed robberies, this team speaks for victims of serious offenses drawn from across Suffolk County.
Crime Strategies Bureau
The Crime Strategies Bureau directly addresses gun- and gang-related violence by coordinating prosecutions through the Gang Unit, Narcotics Unit, and Gun Prosecution Task Force. The CSB screens out first-time and low-level offenders and targets those who drive violent crime, distribute large quantities of illicit drugs, and pose the greatest threat to their communities. It also oversees the Asset Forfeiture Community Reinvestment Program, which takes cash and assets seized from drug traffickers and awards them to non-profit groups that steer young people away from drugs, gangs and risky behavior.
Senior Trial Unit
The Senior Trial Unit litigates cases of violent crime with especially serious injuries or highly challenging fact patterns. Its lawyers and victim advocates are some of the most experienced in the office, with prior assignments in a variety of fields preparing them for even the most complex prosecutions.
The death of a loved one from violence can be among the most devastating experiences a person can face. Homicide prosecutors and victim advocates are among the most skilled and experienced members of our staff, and they know how vulnerable a family can be under such difficult circumstances. They are committed to speaking for the victim and his or her loved ones in a court of law, ensuring that the deceased is not forgotten, and holding the offender accountable. Members of the Suffolk County DA’s Homicide Unit prosecute nearly half of all homicides in Massachusetts, and are also obligated under statute to oversee all death investigations in Suffolk County. Among the most experienced staff members in the office, homicide prosecutors work closely with investigators and detectives from Boston and local police departments, and the State Police, to thoroughly investigate every homicide. This team effort helps prosecutors build strong cases that lead to the identification and prosecution of the county’s most dangerous criminals.
The Juvenile Unit handles most cases in which the offender is age 17 or younger. Because these cases often involve a young victim as well, Juvenile Unit staff members are skilled at communicating with young people and answering their families’ questions. The juvenile justice system is slightly different from the one that adjudicates adults, and its prosecutors are able to balance the factors of punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation effectively to serve the victim and the common good.
Special Prosecutions Unit
The Special Prosecutions Unit investigates and prosecutes cases of white collar crime, financial fraud, computer-related crimes, public corruption, and related offenses. With a team of highly-specialized lawyers and investigators, they have successfully prosecuted cases ranging from identity theft to excessive force by law enforcement officers to the largest Ponzi scheme in Boston’s history.