Experienced Defense for Clerk Magistrate Hearings in Boston & Massachusetts
The lawyers at Mahoney Criminal Defense Group represent individuals accused, but not yet charged, with criminal offenses throughout the Courts of Massachusetts, including Boston, Cambridge, Woburn, Waltham, Brighton and Somerville. A clerk’s hearing provides you with the opportunity to maintain a clean record by persuading the clerk not to issue the criminal charges against you. If you are being accused of a criminal offense, call at 617-492-0055 to arrange for a free consultation.
Winning Before the Charges Even Issue: Clerk Magistrate Hearings
Receiving a summons to appear before a Clerk Magistrate can be both unnerving and confusing. The summons itself is, perhaps, one of the least edifying documents that courts issue. It does little to explain what transpires at this hearing.
Overview of the Hearing
In Massachusetts, police officers may, instead of arresting an individual they believe committed a crime, file an application for a criminal complaint with the Clerk of the District Court. If the Clerk approves the application, he issues a summons to the individual to appear for a hearing before him. At this hearing, the Clerk will decide if the police possess sufficient proof that an individual committed the particular crime or crimes. Should he find that the police have met their burden of proof, he has the authority to issue a criminal complaint.
A Clerk Magistrate may hold the hearing in a courtroom or in an office. He alone decides what evidence he will consider and from whom he will accept testimony. Though at most hearings the police prosecutor will simply read a police report aloud to the Clerk, occasionally, an Assistant District Attorney will represent the police. The Clerk will usually permit either the police prosecutor or the Assistant District Attorney to call witnesses to offer testimony. The defendant is also entitled to be represented by counsel at the hearing, and the Clerk may permit the criminal defense lawyer to cross-examine any witnesses and to call witnesses to testify on his client’s behalf. While many Clerk’s hearings last little more than 30 minutes, some hearings can last two hours or more.
Successfully Defending You
While the relative informality of such a hearing may entice an individual into representing himself, retaining a lawyer may well prove critical to your defense. Though the police prosecutor or Assistant District Attorney may introduce adequate proof of your guilt, the Clerk is not obligated to issue a criminal complaint against you. In the vast majority of occasions, Attorney Mahoney has persuaded the Clerk Magistrate to dismiss the charges outright or following the client’s completion of a period of pre-trial probation, thereby preserving the client’s clean record.
Where the Clerk has issued the criminal complaint, Mahoney has used what he learned about the government’s case during the hearing, as well as his cross-examination of a police officer, to win the trial. For example, in a case in which the State Police, together with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, sought a criminal complaint for motor vehicle homicide against his client, Attorney Kevin J. Mahoney used his cross-examination at the hearing to commit the State Police Accident Reconstructionist to a particular theory of the accident. He then explained to the Clerk why the Trooper’s theory was flawed. Between the time of the hearing and the trial, the Trooper realized his mistakes and substantially modified his theory. At the trial, Mahoney used his cross-examination of the Trooper at the hearing to discredit his testimony before the jury. The jury deliberated only 40 minutes before acquitting the client. Had Attorney Mahoney not represented the client before the Clerk Magistrate, he would have been unaware of the Trooper’s original theory.
To allow Attorney Mahoney sufficient time to prepare for your hearing, please contact us at 617-492-0055 at the earliest possible opportunity to arrange a free in-office consultation.