In Massachusetts, if the police desire to charge you with a misdemeanor that was allegedly committed outside their presence, they cannot arrest you (with the notable exceptions of domestic violence cases, including spousal assault and battery and/or violation of a restraining order). Instead, the police must apply for a complaint at the local district or municipal court. You would then be entitled to a clerk magistrate's hearing — or, a clerk's hearing, for short. The stakes at a clerk's hearing are quite high: if a complaint issues against you, the charge will appear on your criminal record and therefore would be part of any future background check. On the other hand, if a complaint does not issue against you, there is no public record of it — and it would be as if the charge never happened at all. Needless to say, a clerk's hearing is a terrific opportunity for you to keep your record clean.
Attorney David R. Yannetti and his legal team represent clients facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges at a clerk's hearing. If you hire the Yannetti Criminal Defense Law Firm at this early juncture, our attorneys would evaluate your case, possibly contact the arresting officer and/or police prosecutor, speak with witnesses, and prepare arguments to convince the clerk magistrate to dismiss the application for complaint against you. As former prosecutors, our criminal defense experts understand how to work effectively with law enforcement officers and alleged victims in order to prevent charges from issuing against our clients.
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What Happens At A Clerk's Hearing?
Typically, the arresting officer will appear in court to read a report or describe for the clerk magistrate what happened in your arrest. Sometimes, the arresting officer does not appear, and instead leaves it to a police prosecutor to represent the department. In some cases, witnesses may appear as well in order to provide testimony. As the defendant, you may bring an attorney to represent you. The proceedings are usually not recorded and there is usually no public record of what transpires in a clerk's hearing. Based upon your attorney's advice, you may or may not choose to testify on your own behalf. In the end, the clerk magistrate will consider the testimony and exhibits, while entertaining oral arguments from the police officer and your attorney. If the clerk magistrate finds that there is probable cause to support the charges -- and if he or she also believes that you should be charged -- then a complaint will issue against you. If, on the other hand, your attorney can convince the clerk magistrate that there are good reasons to dismiss the case, then your criminal record will remain clean.
Why Should I Hire A Defense Attorney?
Only an attorney who understands how police officers and clerk magistrates tend to view certain cases can truly lobby effectively on your behalf. Depending on your criminal record and the circumstances of your arrest, Attorney Yannetti may be able to reach out to an officer or alleged victim and convince him or her to recommend that the charges against you be dismissed. There may also be a legal basis to prevent a complaint from issuing. The danger for an unrepresented defendant is his or her ignorance of both the legal and practical aspects to a clerk's hearing. You may think that you are acting in a proper manner, while you are instead helping to convince a clerk magistrate that you should be charged after all. In many clerk's hearings, it is the attorney who speaks on behalf of the client and the client does not have to speak at all. If you attend a clerk's hearing without an attorney, that would obviously not be possible. Oftentimes, accomplished and intelligent people contact our office after having tried to represent themselves at the clerk's hearing -- and are bewildered that they ended up talking themselves into getting charged with the crime. It is then up to our firm to try to undo the damage that the client has done to himself or herself. You should not allow that to happen to yourself.
If you're facing charges for shoplifting, or drug possession, or a crime such as assault and battery, or another misdemeanor crime, Attorney Yannetti and his colleagues can help you prepare for a clerk magistrate's hearing. They can also take steps designed to persuade the magistrate to reduce or dismiss the charges against you. While there is no guarantee of success, you will put yourself in the best possible position to obtain a favorable result if you hire our firm -- or another qualified firm -- to represent you.
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We are prepared to represent you in clerk magistrate's hearings. Contact our attorneys online or call 617-338-6006 for a FREE phone consultation. With offices in Boston and Salem, we are here to help you.