One considerable advantage to those accused of a misdemeanor crime in Massachusetts is the clerk’s hearing, also referred to as a show cause hearing or a clerk magistrate’s hearing.
In Massachusetts those accused of most misdemeanors that occur outside of the police officer’s presence are entitled to a clerk’s hearing to determine if there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against an individual.
How the hearing will be conducted will depend on the clerk running the hearing. However, normally the clerk will have the police officer read his report. After the police officer reads his report, if there are any victims present he will usually hear from them next. Once he has heard from the police officer and/or the alleged victim he will give you or your attorney an opportunity to respond.
It is important to know that although the proceeding is not recorded any statements that you make during the clerk’s hearing can be used against you at any subsequent trial. After all sides have had an opportunity to be heard the clerk will decide if there is probable cause to issue criminal charges. If criminal charges are to be issued against you will receive a summons to return to court to be arraigned on the new criminal charges.
Although the standard of proof is low, it is a great opportunity to avoid criminal charges and to keep your record clean. Even if probable cause is established the clerk still has an option of not issuing the charge. With so much at stake it is important to retain a criminal defense attorney as soon as you receive notice to appear for a clerks hearing.
If you have been sent a notice to appear for a clerks hearing call today for a free consultation!