Clerk Magistrate's Hearings
Clerk Magistrate hearings are sometimes also referred to as “show-cause” hearings. A Magistrate’s hearing is another manner in which an individual in Massachusetts can be charged with a crime. Magistrate’s hearings can take place after an arrest has occurred or not but is more common in instances where there has been no formal arrest. Routinely a Magistrate’s hearing is requested by a police officer who believes a crime has been committed but did not witness the crime first hand. In such an instance, the police officer files a complaint with the Clerk of the local District Court, and a Magistrate’s hearing is scheduled. The Magistrate will determine during the hearing whether there is probable cause in which to issue a criminal charge for the alleged criminal act.
A Magistrate’s hearing is started when a police officer or another individual files an Application for Criminal Complaint with the Clerk of the local District Court. The filer alleges within the complaint that an individual committed certain criminal acts. At this initial step there is no criminal defendant. After the complaint is filed, a Notice is sent to the party being accused of committing the crime, and a hearing date is set. If you receive a Notice of a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing it is essential that you do not dismiss the importance of the Notice. The Magistrate’s hearing is a crucial and important step in either initiating formal criminal charges against you or dismissing the complaint prior to charges being filed.
At the Magistrate’s hearing the person bringing the complaint will present their side of the facts. Additional witnesses may be called to testify during the hearing. You will also have the opportunity to testify concerning the alleged facts, if you so choose. Following the hearing and testimony, the Clerk Magistrate will make a determination of whether probable cause exists to support the allegations set out in the complaint. If the Magistrate finds that probable cause does exists the complaint will be accepted and formal criminal charges will be brought within the District Court. The Magistrate may also hold the complaint which means that if you are not brought back into court for any other crimes for a set period of time the Magistrate will dismiss the complaint administratively. Similarly, the Magistrate may outright dismiss the complaint if there is no probable cause finding.
As stated above, a Magistrate’s hearing should be taken seriously. This hearing provides you with an opportunity to resolve a matter prior to the filing of formal criminal charges. Additionally, an experienced attorney can gather crucial facts and evidence during the Magistrate’s hearing that can be used to your benefit in the event criminal charges are brought and your matter proceeds to the District Court.
If you have received a Notice of a Magistrate’s hearing contact Lake Shore Legal today. Our attorneys can advise you of your rights before the Clerk Magistrate and represent you throughout the hearing process. Our attorneys can advocate on your behalf to the Magistrate that probable cause does not exist and that a criminal complaint should not be accepted and no charges should be filed. The advocacy of our attorneys can assist you in an attempt to make sure that you do not face formal criminal charges in the District Court or to determine potential weaknesses and flaws within the Commonwealth’s potential criminal case against you. Contact Lake Shore Legal today and allow us to advocate aggressively on your behalf before the Magistrate and to protect your legal rights. firstname.lastname@example.org (508) 943-7800