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Criminal Law

  • The Commonwealth Attorneys’ Act and thirty additional statutes provide extensive powers of prosecution to the Attorney General.  By law, the OAG has the power to investigate and prosecute criminal matters relating to the public duties of state officials and employees; corrupt organizations; charges referred by a Commonwealth agency pursuant to such agency's enforcement provisions; presentments returned by a Statewide Investigating Grand Jury; and, matters arising out of the Medicaid Fraud Control Section.  In addition, the Criminal Law Division may prosecute referrals from a district attorney based on lack of resources or a conflict of interest, and may handle criminal appeals as the law provides. 

    The Criminal Law Division is headed by an Executive Deputy Attorney General (EDAG), who is the Director and has overall responsibility for ensuring that the functions of the Division are properly administered. The Criminal Division EDAG reports to the Attorney General and the First Deputy Attorney General.  The Director of the Criminal Division is responsible for keeping members of the Executive Office advised of all non-routine or sensitive matters.

    The Criminal Law Division has Regional Offices located throughout the Commonwealth to carry out its functions.  In addition, the Grand Jury offices are in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Norristown.  The attorneys in the criminal division are organized into nine sections with a Chief Deputy Attorney General (CDAG) in charge of each section.  Each CDAG reports to the Criminal Division EDAG. 

    The nine sections in the Criminal Law Division are:

    Appeals and Legal Services Section is responsible for representing the Commonwealth in all criminal appeals that involve the OAG and for advocating the position of the Attorney General on important issues in cases prosecuted by the county district attorneys. 

    In addition, the Appeals and Legal Services Section provides general legal and research support to the Criminal Law Division, coordinates and schedules all matters to be brought before the statewide investigating grand juries. Within this section are the Capital Litigation Unit and Grand Jury Unit.

    Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section is responsible for the litigation of asset forfeiture cases under the Controlled Substances Forfeitures Act (42 Pa. C.S. §6801(c)) and for the supervision and prosecution of money laundering and other drug-related financial cases.

    Criminal Prosecutions Section prosecutes a wide variety of criminal violations involving all areas within the jurisdiction of the OAG.  Cases are typically generated from District Attorney referrals; Commonwealth agency referrals; and, from the Investigative Grand Jury.  Within this Section are the Environmental Crimes Unit, Tax Unit and Public Corruption Unit.

    Child Predator Section prosecutes child pornography crimes using a group of specially trained agents and prosecutors across Pennsylvania to identify and capture online predators before they can harm children.   

    Drug Strike Force Section is charged with providing on-site legal assistance and guidance to regional Bureau of Narcotics Investigation (BNI), Drug Control agents and Pennsylvania State Police drug investigators. It targets investigations for development into complex, organizational prosecutions (primarily through electronic surveillance and Grand Jury). This section also supervises the use and application of the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act (18 Pa. C.S. §5701 et seq.)

    Environmental Crimes Unit is a cooperative program between the OAG and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). It investigates and prosecutes criminal violations of Pennsylvania's environmental laws when the case has been investigated by DEP and referred to the OAG for prosecution.

    Insurance Fraud Section investigates and prosecutes insurance fraud and workers' compensation violations pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (18 Pa. C.S. § 4117(h)(2)) (Act 166 of 1994).  Financial support for this Section is provided by the Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority, which is funded by the insurance industry on an annual basis.

    Medicaid Fraud Control Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting providers who have fraudulently participated in the Medical Assistance Program.  Examples of such providers include nursing homes, hospitals, medical supply vendors and medical professionals (physicians, dentists, pharmacists, etc.).  This Section also investigates and prosecutes violations of the Neglect of Care-Dependent Person statute (18 Pa. C.S.A. §2713 (d)(2)).

    Organized Crime Section has as its primary mission the investigation and prosecution of organized criminal enterprises, including gangs.

    Special Litigation Section handles complex state and federal cases and class actions which challenge the constitutionality of criminal justice procedures, and prepares amicus briefs for filing in the United States and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts in important criminal cases.  The Section provides assistance to county prosecutors in death penalty cases. 

    The agents in the Criminal Division are organized into three bureaus with a Special Agent in Charge (SAC) serving as the head of each Bureau.  Each SAC reports to the Criminal Division EDAG.  These three bureaus are:

    • Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI)
    • Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI)
    • Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control (BNI)

    Bureau of Criminal Investigation consists of Special Agents that investigate all criminal offenses within the jurisdiction of the OAG other than narcotics offenses. It works primarily with the following Sections:  Criminal Prosecutions, Environmental Crimes, Gaming, Insurance Fraud, Medicaid Fraud Control and Organized Crime

    Bureau of Special Investigations is composed of those units and programs which provide support in the areas of intelligence gathering and analysis, including special operations program, computer forensics, electronic surveillance, and technical services. The Child Predator Section is also a part of this Bureau as well are responsibilities including amendments to the agent manual, development of agent training programs, and implementation of office-wide security initiatives.

    Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control has sworn narcotics agents and is mandated by law to enforce the provisions of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P.S. §780-113 et. seq.) and other related statutes. It exists as one of the largest agencies in the nation devoted exclusively to drug enforcement.  Additionally, through the Municipal Drug Task Force Program, the OAG encourages joint participation and involvement of local and state law enforcement personnel in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of drug traffickers and drug trafficking organizations within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  To support and encourage joint participation, funding is available to reimburse municipal law enforcement personnel for overtime with related benefits and authorized case expenses while assisting the OAG in designated task force investigations. Equipment and training related to drug enforcement are also available through the OAG or presented by qualified Bureau personnel.  Funding for Municipal Drug Task Force operations is provided to municipalities under the Drug Control Assistance Program.  Funds are also provided to District Attorney administered Task Forces.