Clerk Magistrate Hearings
If you have received a summons to a Clerk Magistrate Hearing you have an excellent opportunity to prevent the issuance of any criminal charges against you. Many people do not realize that they have the right to an attorney at one of these “informal” hearings, and therefore make the mistake of representing themselves. Effective representation of your interests at a clerk magistrate hearing can result in:
- The denial of a criminal complaint
- The holding of a criminal complaint in abeyance for a specified period time
- Or even the resolution of the matter via the civil judicial process
What happens at a clerk magistrate hearing?
At a clerk magistrate hearing you can expect to have an audience before a clerk magistrate of the court, at which a police officer or a civilian complainant will have the opportunity to present the factual basis for the charges being sought against you. After that presentation is made you have the opportunity to cross examine the complainant through your counsel, and the clerk may also ask some questions. After the questioning of all witnesses is complete the clerk will inquire as to whether or not you wish to speak or present any witnesses. If you are not represented by competent counsel, you may inadvertently incriminate yourself, and that information can and will be used against you in any subsequent criminal prosecution. An attorney can also present positive information about you to the clerk which may influence the clerk’s opinion about the particular situation. A good attorney will gather as much supporting paperwork as possible before the hearing to demonstrate proof of employment, proof of school, proof of community service, etc to make the strongest case possible to the clerk.
What are the possible outcomes at a clerk magistrate hearing?
If the clerk chooses to deny the application for a complaint then the matter is finished, and there will be no entry of any charges on your criminal record. If the clerk chooses to hold the complaint in abeyance for a specific time period (usually with some conditions that need to be met) then the same is true regarding no entry on your criminal record. In the worst case, where a complaint is being issued, it may not be issued on all charges if your attorney can attack the basis for some, but not all of the charges. For whatever charges are issued, an arraignment will be scheduled and the criminal case against you will begin. In some instances, your attorney can speak with the District Attorney’s office prior to the arraignment to ask them to consider dismissing the case prior to arraignment, so there are still options available to you.
Why do I need an Attorney?
The most important thing to do is to contact a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney as SOON as you have any indication that you have been summonsed to a clerk magistrate hearing to evaluate your options and potential strategies. A criminal record can haunt you for life, so make sure to give yourself the best opportunity to prevent that from happening to you. Defending a criminal case once it has been arraigned is costly and time consuming, paying for quality representation at a clerk magistrate hearing can actually save you a lot of money and time, not to mention protect you from the collateral consequence of a criminal record.
Call Attorney Rakhlin for a FREE consultation regarding your upcoming clerk magistrate hearing: (617) 564-0466