WHAT IS A CLERK MAGISTRATE HEARING AND WHEN ARE YOU ENTITLED TO ONE?

June 9, 2016

In Massachusetts if a person is accused of a crime,

either by way of a civilian signed application for a

complaint or a police officer’s report and application for

complaint, as long as the charges are misdemeanors and

you have not been arrested, you are entitled to such a

curtsey. Although you are not guaranteed the right to

counsel for a clerk hearing, you are entitled to hire your

own lawyer to defend you. Doing so is crucial. Why? It is

just that if you fail to persuade the magistrate to see it

your way, and not find probable cause that you broke

the law, then you are going to criminal court.

Going to 
criminal court means that there will be an arraignment

and you will ipso facto have this allegation as part of

your record, no matter how it turns out, guilty, not

guilty, pretrial probation, continued without a finding or

dismissed. Having no record is obviously a better

choice. Going to a clerk’s hearing with counsel prepared

to defend you, educated in the tactics to get the job done

right is worth your money. It is a lot more expensive to

have a criminal case, especially if you think about the

time spent in court, the humiliation, the attorney fees,

the court fines and fees, probation payments and even

jail. Then there are the collateral consequences of

having a conviction, which include, but are not limited

to housing loss, job loss, educational issues,

immigration consequences and limits on your travel

liberty.

Did you know that people on probation are not

allowed to leave the state without express permission

from the Court? And getting said permission is not a

given. Having a criminal case is a big problem! I am not

saying that retaining counsel for a magistrate hearing is

a guarantee that the case will get kicked out. However, it

is the first step to giving the matter your best effort. All

the magistrate needs to find in order to send the matter

up for arraignment is probable cause that you broke the

law. Probable cause is basically a 50:50 percent chance

you did it. That is a low low threshold that any clerk has

very very little trouble establishing. If it is one person’s

word against another, they often just send it up to Court

to be sorted out there by a judge or jury.

Hiring an 
attorney with the knowledge and experience of

defending the accused at clerk magistrate hearings in

Massachusetts is a smart investment and an intelligent

decision you are unlikely to regret. Call me if you want

to learn more about the topic.

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© 2019 by ​Cape Cod Criminal Defense Attorney Randi J. Potash.  

Criminal Defense Lawyer serving clients in Cape Cod, Greater Boston, and throughout the state of Massachusetts, including the cities and towns of Amesbury, Andover, Barnstable, Belmont, Beverly, Boston, Boxford, Braintree, Brookline, Burlington, Cambridge, Canton, Carlisle, Chatham, Cohasset, Concord, Danvers, Dedham, Dennis, Dorchester, Dover, Everett, Falmouth, Framingham, Franklin, Gloucester, Haverhill, Holbrook, Hyannis, Ipswich, Lawrence, Lexington, Lincoln, Lynn, Lynnfield, Malden, Marblehead, Marlborough, Marshfield, Medfield, Medford, Medway, Melrose, Methuen, Middleton, Millis, Natick, Needham, Newburyport, Newton, Norwood, Orleans, Peabody, Plymouth, Quincy, Randolph, Rockport, Salem, Saugus, Scituate, Sharon, Sherborn, Somerville, Stoughton, Sudbury, Swampscott, Topsfield, Walpole, Wareham, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston, Weymouth, Winchester. All towns encompassed in the Counties of Middlesex, Suffolk, Plymouth, Barnstable, Essex and Norfolk.