How to be Successful at Clerk Magistrate's Hearing

Have you received a Notice for a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing? We at Sweeney & Associates regularly represent clients at Clerk Magistrate Hearings and strongly advise that you hire an attorney to attend the hearing with you.

What is a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing? A Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing is a hearing held before a Clerk or Assistant Clerk. The Clerk is similar to a judge because they have the power to decide whether you should face criminal charges but they do not wear a black robe and do not preside over your case if you end up facing criminal charges. Clerks and Assistant Clerks have a lot of power to determine the course of your case so dressing appropriately and treating the Clerk with respect are critical to a successful outcome of the hearing.

What is the purpose of a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing? The purpose of a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing is to determine whether probable cause exists to charge you with a crime. Probable cause is a very low standard. It is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt but means that there is sufficient evidence to find you could have committed the crime. For example, in an Assault & Battery case, if a person claims you punched them, even if you deny it, the person's allegation is enough to establish probable cause the crime was committed. Independent evidence that an Assault & Battery was committed is not necessary. That is why hiring an experienced attorney is so important.

While you do not have to attend the Clerk Magistrate’s hearing, it would be foolish not to. This hearing is your chance to prevent charges from being issued against you. By hiring an attorney, your attorney can try to work out a deal with the police prosecutor or win the case outright. If we win at the Clerk Magistrate’s hearing, then no charges are filed against you and there will be no charges on your criminal record. At some hearings, the Clerk will find there is enough evidence to issue the charges but instead the Clerk just holds the case open for a period of months, usually six months, and if you stay out of trouble, then no charges will be filed against you and the charges from the hearing will not show up on your criminal record. Hiring an experienced attorney is often the difference between you facing charges and the case being dismissed.

Many people often ask whether they should represent themselves at a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing. This is never a good idea. Anything you say at the hearing can be used against you in court. In one case, a client contacted us after she attended the hearing and represented herself. She was originally faced with one charge and by the end of the hearing, she was charged with four different crimes. This is a cautionary tale of why you should never represent yourself because you could talk yourself into facing additional criminal charges just like she did. The best way to handle this kind of hearing is to have an attorney represent you.

At Sweeney & Associates, we will discuss with you what happened in your case prior to the hearing and decide what the best strategy in your case will be whether that means challenging the evidence, requesting leniency, or working out a deal.

We have successfully won a variety of cases at Clerk Magistrates’ hearings. We have prevented charges in hundreds of cases including cases involving the charges of Lewd & Lascivious Behavior, Open and Gross Lewdness, Possession with Intent to Distribute, Distribution drug crimes, Leaving the Scene of Property Damage and Personal Injury, OUI, Driving on a Suspended License, Breaking and Entering, Driving on a Suspended License, and Operating to Endanger.

Contact us today at Sweeney & Associates for your free consultation. We can help you determine the best course of action if you receive a Notice for Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing. We can be reached at (617) 328-6900 or