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In the state of Massachusetts, legal proceedings can begin in a few different ways. While a formal arrest is the most common first step, it’s not the only one. Being summoned to a clerk magistrate hearing (also called a ‘clerk’s hearing’ or ‘probable cause hearing’) can forever change the course of your life.
A clerk magistrate hearing happens when someone believes you committed a crime, but you weren’t arrested. This can happen if you’re suspected of a crime but no police were present at the time it was committed, for example.
If your accuser is successful and the clerk issues the charge, you face serious consequences like mandatory fines, prison time, and license suspension. It’s crucial that you’re represented by an aggressive New Bedford clerk magistrate hearing lawyer like Courtney K. Fogarty, with experience handling criminal matters in Massachusetts.
These are the most common charges that lead to a clerk magistrate hearing, but not the only ones. No matter what potential charges you’re facing, Courtney will get to know your unique situation and build the best defense strategy available.
The most important thing to remember is that clerk magistrate hearings have to be taken seriously. Especially if you received a summons in the mail, it’s easy to convince yourself that you won’t face real consequences.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. This hearing is the formal start of legal proceedings in Massachusetts. If the clerk agrees with your accuser, your formal arraignment will be scheduled in District Court. You’ll officially have a criminal record if this happens, which will impact your job prospects and living situation for years to come.
Something else to keep in mind is probable cause. At a clerk magistrate hearing, your accuser will describe the reasoning and evidence behind the claim they filed. Unfortunately, probable cause is one of the lowest standards for a burden of proof.
This means it doesn’t take much for the clerk to side with your accuser. While you are allowed to make your own statement, convincing the clerk of your innocence can be difficult without an attorney like Courtney. When you work together, she’ll advise you on when to testify and when you shouldn’t. She’ll also present your case and make specific arguments to the clerk on your behalf.
Courtney specializes in helping clients at any stage of legal proceedings. As a New Bedford clerk magistrate hearing lawyer, she’s helped many clients reduce the consequences or get their potential charges dismissed entirely. When you speak with Courtney, she’ll walk you through how the hearing is most likely to go and what steps to take in the meantime.
Also known as a show cause hearing, a clerk magistrate hearing is an official legal process for notifying you that either a citizen or member of law enforcement is lodging a criminal complaint against you. Basically, this hearing is most often called for when you’re being charged with a misdemeanor but there weren’t any witnesses.
At the hearing, a district court clerk magistrate will listen to both your defense and the citizen or police officer’s complaints. This hearing is your first chance to present a defense and reduce any potential negative outcomes.
An application for a criminal complaint in Massachusetts alleges that you’ve committed specific crimes, and this application will ultimately result in a clerk magistrate hearing.
In the state of MA, both police officers and civilians are allowed to file these applications. It’s most common for the police to file an application, but not unheard of for civilians to do so.
If you’ve received a criminal complaint and summons via mail, you can’t ignore it. This is the beginning of the formal process for criminal justice. The charges won’t just disappear if you don’t show up to court. While a criminal complaint is not the same as a formal arrest, it needs to be taken just as seriously.
An experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer can help by working with you to build a defense and by convincing the clerk magistrate not to move forward with the charges.
If the clerk magistrate agrees that there’s probable cause, your case will move forward to arraignment. This can lead to a conviction on your record, mandatory fines, and even a mandatory minimum prison sentence. The collateral damage to your reputation and relationships can be disastrous too.
Don’t leave your well-being and your future up to chance. Receiving a summons leads to a whirlwind of powerful emotions, and it’s likely that you’ll be emotionally charged during your hearing. When you work with an experienced and successful New Bedford clerk magistrate hearing lawyer like Courtney, she’ll advocate fervently and effectively on your behalf.
If you’ve received a date for a clerk magistrate hearing, book your FREE hour-long initial consultation as soon as possible. The sooner we’re familiar with the details of your case, the more effective your defense strategy will be. Just call (508) 317-0339 to start protecting your freedom.