Overview of the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office.

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Established by Sections 12 and 13 of Chapter 12 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office (MDAO) prosecutes criminal cases in Middlesex County. MDAO serves Middlesex County from the following locations: the Middlesex County Superior Courts (Woburn and Lowell), District Courts (Ayer, Cambridge, Concord, Framingham, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Natick, Newton, Somerville, Waltham, and Woburn), Juvenile Courts (Cambridge, Framingham, Lowell, and Waltham), and the Massachusetts Appeals and Supreme Judicial Courts (for appellate work). MDAO’s main administrative and accounting office is in Woburn. For fiscal years 2019 and 2020, MDAO received appropriations totaling $17,173,489 and $18,893,167, respectively, to fund its administrative operations. It also received appropriations totaling $556,816 in fiscal year 2019 and $562,384 in fiscal year 2020 for the overtime costs of state police officers assigned to it. MDAO operates many programs to serve its communities. Our audit reviewed the Young Adult Diversion Program (YADP) and the Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP).


YADP began as a pilot program in Malden District Court in April 2016, and MDAO expanded it to the entire county in July 2016. The program provides individualized services to young adults between the ages of 18 and 26, allowing them to complete a remedial program and/or community service as an alternative to prosecution. YADP includes offenses considered misdemeanors or felonies for which a young adult could be prosecuted in a district court, and it is offered to young adults who are willing to accept personal responsibility and participate in the program. When determining whether to admit a young adult, YADP also considers his/her criminal history; the likelihood of his/her cooperation and agreement with the program’s services, terms, and conditions; the nature of the particular criminal activity; input from the police and victim/s; and any background information offered by the young adult. YADP is not available for offenses involving the possession/use of firearms, school-based threats, certain victim crimes (e.g., sexual assault, intimate partner domestic violence), or certain motor vehicle offenses. Enrollment in YADP is at the District Attorney’s discretion. The administration of YADP is not governed by statute and did not receive separate funding during the audit period.

Participation in YADP is voluntary and begins (1) by a police referral before the seeking of a criminal complaint or after an arrest or (2) by a referral from an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) after the issuance of a criminal complaint but before arraignment. A young adult diversion coordinator reviews each case, makes contact with the interested parties, and discusses with a diversion director whether to accept the young adult into the program.

Once the young adult is accepted, s/he meets with the young adult case manager (or another available member of the YADP team); the defense attorney, if any; and possibly a parent or other supportive adult, at the young adult’s discretion. The meeting agenda contains an explanation of the program, information recorded on the intake form (personal/family information), acceptance of responsibility, discussion of facts and decision-making, discussion of potential conditions/programs, and a section-by-section review and signing of the YADP Agreement. The agreement is usually for a six-month period but may be longer.

The YADP team is available to help locate and secure a community service placement if it is part of the agreement, as well as to help the young adult find a social service counselor, enroll in any required programming, and/or meet any other requirements set forth in the agreement (e.g., employment). During the term of the agreement, the YADP team collects from the young adult required documentation (e.g., a certificate of completion from an outside program, a letter of apology, an essay).

The young adult is monitored by YADP personnel during participation in the program. The young adult case manager maintains and reviews documentation of completion of diversion requirements set forth in the agreement, using the case tracking sheet. Upon completion of the term of the agreement, and a review of the diversion requirements, the young adult case manager sends (or causes to be sent) a disposition letter to the young adult with a determination of the outcome of the program.

If the young adult successfully completes the requirements set forth in the agreement, the case is closed without prosecution and no criminal record is created. If the young adult withdraws or fails to successfully complete diversion, the case may, at the ADA’s discretion and with input from the YADP team, proceed to arraignment and court process. MDAO measures YADP’s success rate based on the percentage of young adults who successfully complete their diversion requirements.


In accordance with Section 5 of Chapter 258B of the General Laws (see Appendix), VWAP provides information to victims and witnesses of crimes about the court process and their rights. Section 5 specifically states that the following services shall be provided to 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. A victim witness advocate is present in court during arraignments to identify any victims and/or witnesses. Advocates continue their contact with victims and/or witnesses throughout the court process in person or by letter, email, or phone to ensure that they receive proper notification of court events, support, and/or services to which they are entitled pursuant to Chapter 258B of the General Laws.

Date published: June 17, 2021

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