A Clerk Magistrate Hearing gives you the opportunity to prevent criminal charges from being filed against you. Hiring an attorney to represent you at this type of hearing can save you thousands in attorney's fees and numerous trips to court because in many cases an attorney can keep you from being charged with a crime.
A Clerk's hearing begins when the police or a victim fills out an Application for Criminal Complaint. You will then receive a notice in the mail telling you to appear in court on a certain date and time. The notice will inform you that there will be a hearing and that you have the chance to be heard at the hearing. Most hearings involve criminal charges that are misdemeanors such as shoplifting, assault and battery, and leaving the scene of an accident. However, some hearings can involve more serious charges such as vehicular homicide.
By contacting an attorney when you receive the notice, we can step in, explain the process and develop a strategy for the best way to handle your case.
We at Sweeney & Associates, LLC, have extensive knowledge and expertise representing clients at Clerk Magistrate Hearings throughout Massachusetts. Often, even if you have committed the crime that's charged, the case can be resolved at this hearing without any need for an arraignment in front of a judge.
A Clerk Magistrate Hearing, also referred to as a Clerk's Hearing or Show-Cause Hearing, is a hearing held by a clerk or assistant clerk magistrate to decide whether probable cause exists for the clerk to believe you committed a crime. Probable cause is a very low standard and only requires that a reasonable person believe the crime could have been committed.
In Massachusetts, an application for a criminal complaint can be filed by a police officer or private citizen. The application contains a description of the alleged crime and the facts supporting it. After the application is filed, you will receive a notice by mail with the date and time of the Clerk Magistrate Hearing.
If the clerk finds that probable cause does not exist, then the Application for a Criminal Complaint will be denied. If the application is denied, then the case is over, you will not face any criminal charges, and the charges will not appear on your criminal record.
At Sweeney &Associates, LLC, we have discovered that when someone receives a notice to appear at a clerk's hearing, he or she handles it in a couple of different ways. The first approach is to simply ignore the notice and not show up at the hearing. That's a huge mistake. If you do not show up, the clerk almost always issues the Complaint which means you will be charged with a crime, need to hire an attorney, and will be arraigned on the criminal charges.
The second approach is to represent yourself. Since the notice is mailed from the clerk's office and is often not received until weeks and sometimes months after the crime was committed, people often mistakenly believe that the hearing is more of a nuisance and can be easily dealt with. Approaching a clerk's hearing in this manner will likely have the same result as the first approach: being charged with a crime and needing to hire an attorney.
The best way to handle a notice for a Clerk Magistrate's Hearing is to hire an experienced, well-qualified Quincy attorney from Sweeney and Associates, LLC. We have represented hundreds of clients at these hearings. We determine what the best defense will be based on the individual facts and circumstances of each case.
We are often able to reach out to the parties involved before the hearing to resolve outstanding issues, or we are able to reach an agreeable solution at the clerk's hearing. Our goal is always to achieve the best result for each client and avoid you being criminally charged.
We know how important these hearings are, so if you have received a notice, contact Sweeney & Associates, LLC, today before you appear in court.