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In Massachusetts, misdemeanor criminal charges arise in one of two ways:
- An arrest, if and only if the offense took place in the presence of a police officer (with the exception of operating under the influence and domestic violence cases); or
- After a "show-cause" hearing, the clerk magistrate determines that there is probable cause to believe you committed the misdemeanor offense.
If you were not arrested, you have the right to a show-cause hearing. If you receive a citation for a criminal charge, you have only 4 days to request such a hearing, otherwise you waive your right to contest the charge. Once charges are filed, you must go through the formal criminal justice system.
In Massachusetts, the penalties for misdemeanor offenses range from a maximum fine of $50 for some charges, up to 2 1/2 years in jail for others. The facts and circumstances of each misdemeanor criminal case vary, so it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney who can review your specific situation.
If convicted of a misdemeanor offense, you cannot have it sealed from your record for at least 5 years after the date of conviction. Even then, after sealing, it will still show up on certain types of background checks- you must consult with a criminal attorney who can analyze your situation to best advise. Certain limited misdemeanor convictions are never sealable.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, do not panic. We've handled hundreds of these cases successfully, without a criminal conviction. Contact our office immediately for your free initial consultation. We might be able to have the charges voided entirely at a clerk's hearing. We might be able to work out a deal to avoid a conviction, either by a CWOF, pretrial probation, or sometimes even dismissal on court costs. Of course, if the prosecution's case is weak against you, we have no problem going to trial, where we obtain a "Not Guilty" verdict on 4 out of 5 cases.
If you have been charged with any criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact our office immediately: