Clerk Magistrate Hearings
In the State of Massachusetts, if you are requested to appear at a Clerk Magistrate Hearing, also known as show cause hearing, it means the prosecuting party will present evidence to a judge to authorize a criminal complaint against you. The outcome of a Clerk-Magistrate hearing can have a significant impact on you. If the judge issues a complaint against you, even before you are found guilty or not guilty, the charge remains on your criminal record and is included in any future background checks. However, if the judge does not issue a complaint against you, no public record of it will exist.
Attorney Jillian N. Celozzi represents those who are faced with a misdemeanor as well as felony criminal charges at a Clerk Magistrate Hearings. As an experienced lawyer, she will thoroughly evaluate your case, speak with witnesses and the complaining officer, and prepare legal arguments used to convince the judge to dismiss the request for a criminal complaint against you.
What to Expect at Clerk Magistrate Hearings
The hearing is presided over by a clerk magistrate. Typically, this hearing takes place in a small meeting room intended for that purpose, or at the clerk magistrate’s office. During the hearing, an attorney may represent you; you may provide your side of the story at this time; provide evidence you believe is relevant to the hearing; also present witnesses to testify on your behalf.
Notice of the hearing is also provided to the alleged victim. During the hearing, they have the right to testify and have witnesses testify on their behalf, as well. If the application for complaint was requested by an officer, they will testify about what he/she knows. Generally, clerk hearings are not recorded. In magistrate hearings, rules of criminal procedure are not followed.
Following hearing all the evidence presented, the clerk magistrate will determine if probable cause exists to believe a crime took place. In a clerks hearing, the criteria for probable cause is low. To convince a reasonable individual that you have committed this crime, only “reasonably trustworthy” evidence needs to be presented.
The show cause hearing has three possible conclusions. A complaint is issued charging you with a crime if the clerk magistrate determines there is probable cause. At that point, a criminal case is opened and an arraignment will take place. Even if you are eventually found not guilty, this complaint remains on your record. The clerk’s decision is final and may not be appealed.
The second conclusion, the application for the complaint is dismissed if the clerk magistrate decides probable cause does not exist. If the complaint is dismissed, there is no public record of the hearing. If the clerk denies the complaint, a redetermination by a judge may be requested by the complainant.
The third conclusion, the clerk decides to “hold” the application. In this case, the application is held for a certain period of time before dismissing it.
As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jillian N. Celozzi understands how to successfully work with alleged victims and police officers to prevent a complaint being issued. If you received a notice requesting you appear at a clerk magistrate hearing, make sure you are represented by a knowledgeable lawyer, like Attorney Jillian N. Celozzi.