Overview

District Attorneys and police have discretion to share information they possess unless otherwise prohibited by statute, rule, or court order.   When responding to requests for information about juveniles, police and prosecutors are guided by the intent of the legislature to provide broadly for the confidentiality of juvenile records.  See Police Comm’r of Boston v. Municipal Court of Dorchester Dist., 374 Mass. 640 (1978); G.L. c. 119, §§38, 60A.  

District Attorneys are required to coordinate efforts of the criminal justice system in addressing juvenile justice through cooperation with the schools and local law enforcement representatives, probation and court representatives and, where appropriate, the Department of Children and Families, Department of Youth Services and the Department of Mental Health. G.L. c. 12, §32(a). In this capacity the district attorney identifies “which juvenile offenders are among the most likely to pose a threat to their community.” G.L. c. 12, §32(b) (Community Based Juvenile Justice Programs / Roundtables).

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to DCF?

Except where otherwise prohibited by statute, rule or court order, police and prosecutors may reveal components of their records when such disclosure is in the interests of justice.  Police may release information to DCF in accordance with §§51A and 51B of G.L. c. 119. Section 51A requires police to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect to DCF. Section 51B requires police to disclose to DCF upon request, any information that may be relevant to an investigation of a case of suspected abuse or neglect. 

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to probation?

Except where otherwise prohibited by statute, rule or court order, police and prosecutors may reveal components of their records. 

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to DYS?

Except where otherwise prohibited by statute, rule or court order, police and prosecutors may reveal components of their records when such disclosure is in the interests of justice. 

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to schools?

Except where otherwise prohibited by statute, rule or court order, police and prosecutors may reveal components of their records when such disclosure is in the interests of justice.

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to the Community Based Juvenile Justice programs?

Pursuant to G.L. c. 12, §32, the district attorneys are required to operate Community Based Juvenile Justice programs (CBJ) in order to coordinate efforts among schools, local law enforcement, Probation and court representatives, the Department of Children and Families, Department of Youth Services, and Department of Mental Health. The CBJ programs are designed to identify cases in which juvenile offenders are among those most likely to pose a threat to their community and to identify specific events and particular individuals whose conduct poses a threat to schools, neighborhoods and communities. In order to meet these mandates, police and prosecutors may share the names of individuals under investigation or charged with a delinquency offense as well as the nature of the allegations. Although the CBJ statute allows for the District Attorney’s office to share specific information as stated above, all other information sharing by the invited members of the CBJ, including the school, probation, and agency personnel can only be disclosed in compliance with the rules that govern confidential information held by those entities.

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to Juvenile Court Investigators?

Except where otherwise prohibited by statute, rule or court order, police and prosecutors may reveal components of their records to Juvenile Court Investigators when such disclosure is in the interests of justice.  

Disclosing information to a child's or young adult's Care & Protection or CRA attorney

When can Police/Prosecutors disclose information to a child's or young adult's Care and Protection or CRA attorney?

Except where otherwise prohibited by statute, rule or court order, police and prosecutors may reveal components of their records to a Care and Protection attorney for a child or young adult when such disclosure is in the interests of justice.  

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to a child's delinquency attorney?

Once a prosecution has been initiated against a juvenile or youthful offender, by either indictment or complaint, the prosecutor shall disclose to the attorney for the child all information in accordance with Mass. R. Crim. P. 14.  The disclosure of identifying information of victims and witnesses may be restricted by court order. Information restricted by statute, such as the identity of a person who files a child abuse and neglect report with DCF pursuant to G.L. c. 119, §51A, will remain redacted from records disclosed. Agencies providing un-redacted records to the prosecutor may wish to include copies of any statutes that limit disclosure.

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to a parent's attorney?

Except where otherwise prohibited by statute, rule or court order, police and prosecutors may reveal components of their records when such disclosure is in the interests of justice.

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to a GAL or CASA?

Except where otherwise prohibited by statute, rule or court order, police and prosecutors may reveal components of their records when such disclosure is in the interests of justice.  

When can police/prosecutors disclose information to victims?

G.L. c. 258B, §3, requires the prosecutor to notify victims (and families of deceased victims) of their rights in connection with a prosecution, which include the right to be present at all court proceedings, the right to be informed of the status of the case and for a prompt disposition of the case, as well as the right to confer with the prosecution before the start of trial. The prosecution must notify victims of their rights to be heard through an oral and written victim impact statement at sentencing or the disposition of the case. Prosecutors are also obligated to inform victims that they have the right to submit to or decline an interview by defense counsel or anyone acting on the defendant’s behalf, and the right to impose reasonable conditions on the conduct of any interview. The Victim Bill of Rights applies to delinquency and youthful offender matters prosecuted in the Juvenile Court. G.L. c. 258B, §1.

In cases involving rape, sexual assault or domestic violence, the victim can request copies of all reports of the assault and all communications between police officers and victims. G.L. c. 41, §97(d).

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