Welcome to the Massachusetts Prosecutor's Guide website. This is the 17th year of the website's existence and the 42nd anniversary of the first publication of the Prosecutor's Guide. As of the fall of 2019, the Prosecutor's Guide has moved to an all-digital platform and can be found exclusively on this site. Here you will find the full text of the Prosecutor's Guide, which is updated by Judge Stearns throughout the year as developments in the law warrant. The text is linked to a database of Massachusetts court decisions maintained by the Commonwealth's 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 criminal law cases prosecuted in the District and Superior Courts of the Commonwealth.
Each chapter on substantive criminal law follows the same pattern. At the beginning of the chapter, a table called Statutory References lists the relevant criminal statutes. The full text of the most important statutes follows the table. Criminal offenses are then analyzed by their elements, evidentiary rules, lesser included offenses, and common defenses. Many chapters contain an extended discussion of related topics. The chapter on "Assaults on Police Officers", for example, also discusses allegations of police misconduct, sovereign immunity, the federal Civil Rights Act, and the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. In the chapter on "Battery", you will find an extended discussion of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act. The chapter on "Identification" includes a discussion of the science and law of DNA profile testing and the Daubert rule to give yet another example.
The Table of Contents is linked to each of the statutes and topics discussed in the book to simplify navigation among the various topics. The search feature also allows you to investigate the entire text by word or phrase. Statutes, secondary materials, and articles of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights are usually (but not always, depending on the context) highlighted in bold type to emphasize important aspects of Massachusetts law and the Supreme Judicial Court's interpretation of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights (which is often more expansive than analogous Supreme Court decisions interpreting the United States Constitution). You will also find helpful hints for tasks like cutting, pasting, and printing sections of the text. (Your license allows you unrestricted personal use of the text). The web site can be accessed with your User Name and Password from any computer with a network browser at
or by simply "Googling" Prosecutor's Guide and following the link. Judge Stearns welcomes letters and emails from users pointing out any citation errors or disagreements with his interpretation of cases and statutes, as well as suggestions for improvements in the contents and design of the website. Emails can be sent through the Prosecutor’s Guide email address at
Physical letters may be addressed to Judge Stearns c/o Massachusetts Prosecutor’s Guide, P.O. Box 1333, Dedham 02127.