Welcome to MASSACHUSETTS CRIMINAL LAW: A PROSECUTOR'S GUIDE Online.

On this site, you will find the full text of the 39th edition of the Prosecutor's Guide. The Guide presents a timely and comprehensive analysis of Massachusetts criminal law and its practice in the courts of the Commonwealth. It is fully updated each fall and during the year as new developments in the law warrant. Please consult our What's New page for the most recent changes. In addition, this online text is linked to a database of Massachusetts court decisions maintained by the Trial Court Law Libraries at masscases.com.

The text also cites and discusses significant criminal law cases decided by the Supreme Court, the federal Courts of Appeals, and state appellate courts from around the country. The principal focus, however, is on Massachusetts criminal law and its practice in the courts of the Commonwealth.

Access to the Guide is by annual subscription. If you are not yet a subscriber, please take the tour of a sample chapter from the Guide.

Please Note: If you are an employee of the Massachusetts Trial Court or an Assistant District Attorney, you have unlimited access to the Prosecutor's Guide web site thanks to licenses purchased on your behalf by the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library and the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, respectively. Please contact your office IT Department for access instructions.

Also law students at the following institutions have access through your school Law Library: Harvard, Suffolk, Boston College, Northeastern, Western New England School of Law, New England Law | Boston, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts.

Please note:

8/11/20:   Judge Stearns has updated and revised: "Drug Crimes", "Dangerous Weapons", "Search and Seizure", "Consent Searches", and "Exigent Searches".

7/21/20:   The chapters on court procedure have been revised to incorporate new developments with respect to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Speedy Trial Act matters (including pretrial detention), as well as new cases discussing the separation of powers, continuances, gang affiliation evidence, and the Confrontation Clause. Judge Stearns also draws attention to the Supreme Judicial Court's suggestion in Commonwealth v. Watt that it might be open to extending its "cruel or unusual punishment" reasoning in Diatchenko to persons under age twenty-two.

7/13/20:   "Battery" and "Domestic Abuse" have been revised to note, among other topics, new cases on the law of self-defense and two new Appeals Court cases by Justice Hanlon clarifying the burden of proof in establishing a reasonable fear of imminent harm and the rules governing the appealability of Chapter 209A and Chapter 258E orders.

Please see What's New for further details.

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Massachusetts Prosecutor's Guide Online
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