Have you been issued a summons to answer for criminal charge? If so, call Kelly & Soto Law to speak with an attorney experienced in clerk magistrate hearings. At Kelly & Soto Law, our attorneys will lobby on your behalf in order to procure the most beneficial results possible. We handle magistrate hearings in Essex County, Suffolk County, Middlesex County, and Norfolk County.
What is a Clerk’s/Magistrate’s Hearing and What Should I Expect?
A clerk’s hearing or magistrate's hearing is an opportunity to have a case heard by a criminal magistrate before the issuance of a formal criminal complaint. This hearing happens pre-arraignment can prove to be very beneficial for individuals arrested for minor offenses.
If someone has been accused of committing a misdemeanor outside of the presence of a police officer, the officer will may a criminal citation instead of effectuating an arrest. The issuance of a criminal citation entitles the alleged offender to a clerk’s hearing or magistrate's hearing. During these hearings, the citing officer, a clerk magistrate and sometimes other witnesses are present. The officer will report his or her observations, witnesses may recite their recollection of any events that occurred, and the accused may offer personal testimony or testimony through council.
At the hearing’s conclusion, the clerk or magistrate will make a decision whether or not probable cause exists to issue a formal criminal complaint. If probable cause exists a complaint may issue or the magistrate may use his or her discretion to continue the matter without the issuance of a formal complaint. This is referred to as a General Continuance.
What is the Benefit of Having a General Continuance?
Until the issuance of a formal criminal complaint, the offense will not be on record. If the clerk or magistrate declines to issue a formal complaint, the accused person’s record will remain unblemished. If the clerk decides to issue a formal complaint, the formal charges will appear on a criminal record.
Due to the drastically different outcomes of these hearings, the stakes for the accused are indeed quite high. It is the difference between having and not having a formal charge. These hearings are particularly crucial for people who have never been arrested and have a “clean” record.
Why Can’t I Lobby on my Own Behalf at the Hearing?
Many times, people assume that attending these hearing without legal representation is fine as long as they are polite and cooperative. They feel that clerks and magistrates will dismiss charges and not file formal complaints, simply because the accused is being courteous and compliant. This is not the case. When an individual is ignorant to the legal ramifications of their criminal offense, they cannot effectively lobby on their own behalf. Many times they end up admitting to the elements of the crime, therefore giving the Commonwealth probable cause to issue a criminal Complaint. As such, only an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you effectively negotiate and argue your case to keep your record clean. You need someone who is knowledgeable in the law, the elements of your offense, and the manner in which clerk magistrates and police officers view these cases.
So call Kelly & Soto Law if you are facing a criminal charge for a misdemeanor, including but not limited to: a drug charge, assault, assault and battery, larceny, shoplifting, or a criminal motor vehicle offense. Our experienced attorneys can assist you in pleading your case when faced with a criminal citation.
Our attorneys are available 24/7 and WILL TRAVEL TO YOU in and around Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, and Malden, and the North Shore, including Salem, Lowell, Lawrence, Gloucester, Peabody and Danvers. We would also be pleased to offer you a free case consultation and price quote.
Call us at 617.807.0840. Our office is located in the heart of Boston’s Government Center and we serve all of Massachusetts. Give us a call today and ask to speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys.
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