The Office of Special Prosecutions directly prosecutes criminal cases to keep our communities safe. We serve as lead prosecutor where we have primary jurisdiction or local prosecutors have a conflict, and we assist other prosecutors in particularly complex or sensitive cases. The Office of Special Prosecutions also investigates and prosecutes election law violations, environmental crimes, and ethics law violations as referred by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.
What type of cases does the Office of Special Prosecutions handle?
In addition to handling the cases of disqualification by local prosecutors, prosecutors in the office prosecute cases in which the Attorney General has jurisdiction, including: cases of public corruption referred by the state Auditor’s Office, environmental crime, identity theft, cases referred by a local grand jury or certain public officials, cases involving theft of state funds, and election fraud. Finally, prosecutors can handle cases of consumer fraud and securities fraud in which the Attorney General has concurrent jurisdiction with local prosecutors.
How does the office monitor, prosecute and audit election law violations?
The Special Prosecutions Unit also monitors the Attorney General's election law violations hotline (1-800-328-VOTE) throughout the year. The hotline records messages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Staff in the office review messages each morning, enter complaints into an electronic database, and refer them to the Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations if they contain allegations of law violations. On Election Day, the hotline is staffed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Eastern time), with every phone answered live, and the complaints entered into the database. Prosecutors review each complaint for appropriate response, including prosecution of election crimes that may eventually be substantiated after investigation. The Special Prosecutions Office also carries out the legal duty of the Attorney General to draw names of six counties “out of the hat” after each Primary and General Election, to be audited for potential irregularities. Upon completion of the audits by the Department of Criminal Investigations, prosecutors in Special Prosecutions present the audit results to the grand juries of each of the six counties, as required by law.
Can I contact the office if I have a question about the criminal justice system?
Yes. Staff in Special Prosecutions also field phone calls from all over the state from citizens asking for general information about the criminal justice system, seeking information about specific statutes, or seeking assistance from the Attorney General in a given criminal case. Often, staff in the office must explain that the Attorney General does not supervise local Commonwealth’s and County Attorneys, as they are independent elected officials. In those situations, it is the goal of Special Prosecutions staff to encourage and assist victims and others to communicate with their local prosecutors or other local resource agencies.