Have you received notice to appear as a potential defendant at a Clerk/Magistrate's hearing?
Do not try to defend yourself at this legal proceeding. A clerk/magistrate hearing - also known as a clerk's hearing - is far more serious than a visit to a clerk's office. It is a potentially the beginning of a criminal prosecution against you. Just as you would not go into a criminal trial without an attorney, you should not attempt to defend yourself at a clerk's hearing.
Call Massachusetts Clerk Magistrate Hearing Lawyer Robert J. Wheeler, Jr. to discuss your situation at 617-973-5858 or click here to send an email.
If the Massachusetts State or local police want to charge someone with a misdemeanor crime that allegedly took place when the police were not present, the officer applies for a complaint at the local district or municipal court. The person being accused is then ordered by the court to appear for a hearing, which is also known as a "show cause" hearing. At the hearing a clerk/magistrate of the court, and not a judge, makes the important preliminary determination as to whether probable cause exists to send the case to trial. Unlike most hearings, this one could change the course of your life.
The purpose of the hearing is similar to what takes place when a Grand Jury is convened in more serious cases (felonies). The clerk/magistrate conducts an examination of the facts to determine whether or not to bring charges.
The clerk/magistrate hearing requires skilled legal representation. As soon as you learn that you have been ordered to appear, you want to retain an aggressive advocate to evaluate the facts of the case, interview witnesses and prepare your defense. A successful representation at a clerk's hearing is the dismissal of the application for a complaint. If the complaint is issued and you are arraigned on the charge you face trial, you have a charge on your permanent criminal record. Any background checks by potential employers may reveal the charge even if you are ultimately found not guilty by a judge or jury. The impact on your future could be devastating.
An experienced attorney will use this hearing as a means to try to get the entire matter dismissed. Going into a hearing without strong representation is a risk you should not take. The stakes - your future - are simply too high.
Clerk/magistrate hearings are initiated by a police officer, a police prosecutor or any person who claims to be the victim of a crime. The law enforcement officer who made the charge or a police prosecutor comes to court to describe what happened. Witnesses may be called to offer their testimony. The discussion is usually not recorded, but what happens at the clerk's office may have a dramatic impact on your future. If the clerk magistrate finds that probable cause exists to believe that you are guilty of the crime alleged, a complaint will be issued. But a strong criminal defense lawyer can fight to protect you, fight to have the case dismissed, and fight so that you do not have a criminal record or, if you already have a criminal record, fight to keep this event off of your record.
If you have been called to attend a clerk's hearing, protect your future and your family. Call Robert J. Wheeler, Jr. at 617-973-5858 or click here to send an email.