Clerk Magistrate Hearings
In Massachusetts, if you are accused of a misdemeanor criminal offense (other than OUI, domestic A & B or shoplifting) that did not take place in the presence of a police officer, you are entitled to request a clerk magistrate’s hearing, or “show cause” hearing, before any official, formal criminal charges can be issued against you. This process begins with an application for a criminal complaint filed with the clerk. The application will be attached to a sworn affidavit from either an investigating police officer or another person who is accusing you of the crime. The affidavit will contain a statement of the facts to support the application for a criminal complaint against you. If you receive a citation for a misdemeanor criminal offense, it is critical that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. You only have 4 days from the issuance of the citation to request a clerk magistrate’s hearing before charges are formally filed against you. If you fail to do so, you may lose the right to a hearing and be thrown right into the criminal justice system; and once that happens, it will forever be on your CORI (criminal offender record information) report, regardless of the eventual outcome.
Retaining a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as you receive notice or a citation for any alleged crime could save your future. A criminal defense attorney can analyze any legal or procedural issues that may be grounds to have the application thrown out. Even where charges may be warranted, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to have the matter resolved short of any criminal charges being filed. Just showing up to the clerk magistrate’s hearing with a well-prepared criminal defense attorney will show the clerk magistrate that you are taking the matter seriously, and he/she may be more inclined to accept your attorney’s recommendation for a resolution short of a criminal complaint being issued. We have represented many clients at clerk magistrate hearings, and we understand what it takes to succeed. When representing clients with no prior criminal record at clerk magistrate's hearings, we successfully resolve the matter more than 90% of the time without criminal charges ever being filed. This has the practical effect of preserving the client's record, and it's as if the incident never happened.
If you have been issued a citation for a criminal offense, or issued a summons o appear at a clerk magistrate's hearing, contact our office immediately: