Overview of the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office.

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The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office (CIDA) was established under Sections 12 and 13 of Chapter 12 of the Massachusetts General Laws, which give the district attorney the power to represent the Commonwealth in the prosecution of criminal cases and defense of civil cases.

CIDA is one of 11 district attorneys’ offices in the Commonwealth and represents the state in the prosecution of criminal offenses that occur within its jurisdiction. CIDA’s jurisdiction covers Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket Counties, which include the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. CIDA’s principal administrative and accounting office is in Barnstable Village; it has additional offices in Barnstable, Edgartown, Falmouth, Nantucket, and Orleans. As of December 31, 2019, CIDA had 59 employees: 22 prosecutors / assistant district attorneys; 13 victim witness advocates (VWAs); 2 staff members in the office’s diversion programs, including the Youthful Diversion Program (YDP) discussed below; and 22 other staff members who aid in the operation of the office.

According to its internal control plan, CIDA's primary mission is “to ensure the peace and safety of the community by speedy prosecution of major offenders as well as by expediting the handling of minor criminal matters.”

Victim Witness Assistance Program

CIDA operates a Victim Witness Assistance Program, under which VWAs are present in court during arraignments and other court events. They notify victims or witnesses of results by phone, email, or letter in accordance with Section 5 of Chapter 258B of the General Laws, which requires CIDA to provide information to victims and witnesses of crimes about the court process, court events, and available services. Section 5 specifically states that the following services shall be provided if requested by a victim or witness: court appearance notification; information related to witness fees, victim compensation, and restitution; escort and transportation; case process notification; employer intercession; expedited return of property; protection; family support, including care of children and other dependents; waiting facilities; and social service referrals.


According to CIDA’s Diversion Programs brochure, the office operates YDP, whose staff “work[s] with individuals charged with minor and misdemeanor offenses by offering an alternative to the court process.” The program is primarily for individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 who have been involved with alcohol- or drug-related incidents, but CIDA may consider other minor misdemeanor offenses. YDP’s staff screens participants to determine their specific needs. Then a contract is created and signed, outlining requirements for completion. Contract requirements can include educational classes, essays, letters of apology, community service, and counseling. Upon completion of all contract requirements, the charges are dropped.

Date published: March 3, 2021

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