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Clerk Magistrate Hearings

In Massachusetts, police may request the court to charge a person with a crime, even if they have not yet made an arrest. The first thing that happens is the police file an application for a criminal charge with the Clerk Magistrate of the district court. Then the Clerk Magistrate notifies the individual who the police want charged, and a hearing is scheduled.

The purpose of a Clerk’s Magistrate Hearing is for the clerk magistrate to examine the facts surrounding the case and determine if there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint. The Clerk Magistrate hearing (also referred to as a “Clerk’s hearing” or a “show cause hearing”) is generally less formal than traditional court hearings, and can even take place in a conference room rather than a courtroom. The rules of evidence that govern trials, also do not apply in Clerk Magistrate hearings.

This lack of formality, however, in the hearing does not mean that it is unimportant. In fact, it can be critical for the person the police want to charge to have an attorney.

The Clerk Magistrate hearing is not only the police’s opportunity to present the Clerk Magistrate with information about the case, it is also your chance not only to prevent charges from being filed against you, but to prevent the public from learning about the situation that led to the possibility of charges in the first place.

The Clerk Magistrate considers the evidence presented by both sides and decides whether probable cause to issue charges exists. If no probable cause is found, there will be no formal charges, nothing is added to your public record, and the case ends there. If probable cause is found, the person will be charged and an arraignment date set and the charges will become public record.

If you have a need for an attoryney, contact the attorneys at Mannion and Associates immediately for a consultation. We will walk you through the process, discuss your options, and do everything possible to ensure the best possible outcome. By combining a fundamental understanding of the big picture, our lawyers provide proactive solutions to a diversity of clients. Our attorneys are involved in some of the most innovative, sophisticated, and complex legal cases in Massachusetts.