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Clerk Magistrate’s Hearings In Massachusetts

One of the lesser known parts of the Massachusetts criminal law system is the clerk magistrate’s hearing or “clerk’s hearing” for short. These hearings are a vital part of the criminal law process and – if you are successful there – you can stop charges from moving forward against you. However, this strategy requires the skills of a strong, insightful attorney.

Attorney David R. Yannetti and his legal team represent clients facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges at a clerk magistrate’s hearings. If you hire the David Yannetti Attorney at Law at this early juncture, our attorneys can prepare arguments to convince the clerk magistrate to dismiss the application for a complaint against you. As former prosecutors, our criminal defense experts understand how to work effectively with law enforcement officers and alleged victims to prevent charges from issuing against our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions About Clerk’s Hearings

Despite clerk’s hearings being such an important part of the criminal law process, you may not know much about them. With our extensive experience representing clients in clerk’s hearings, we can answer any of the questions you may have, such as:

What is a clerk magistrate’s hearing?

In Massachusetts, if the police desire to charge you with a misdemeanor that was allegedly committed outside their presence – with some notable exceptions such as domestic abuse – they cannot arrest you. Instead, the police must apply for a complaint at the local district or municipal court. You would then be entitled to a hearing with a clerk magistrate who will examine the evidence and testimony.

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 to provide testimony. As the defendant, you may bring an attorney to represent you. 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.

What can I expect at a clerk magistrate’s hearing?

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 be issued 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.

Are clerk magistrate hearings public?

While the hearing itself is not a matter of public record, the result may be. If a complaint is issued 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 get issued against you, there is no public record of it – and it would be as if the charge never happened at all.

Why should I hire a defense attorney?

The danger for an unrepresented defendant is their ignorance of both the legal and practical aspects to a clerk’s hearing. Only an attorney who understands how police officers and clerk magistrates tend to view certain cases can truly lobby effectively on your behalf.

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 in Massachusetts. 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.

Call For A Free Consult With A Massachusetts Clerk’s Hearing Lawyer

We are prepared to represent you in clerk magistrate’s hearings. Contact our attorneys online or call 617-297-9213 for a FREE phone consultation. With offices in Boston, Salem and Dedham, our Massachusetts clerk’s hearing attorneys are here to help you.


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In the most painful times in our lives–David, Greg and Lisa showed us their professional best–dignified, warm, gracious. David and his team will not let you down, you will be taken well care of and most importantly superbly and justly represented…
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Oh my goodness David is a miracle worker! Unbelievable results! David is so highly respected by attorneys and judges and prosecutors that he really makes an impact in court and presented our friend in the best possible light…

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If it was not for Mr. Yannetti I could have lost my career and opportunity to come back to USA again given that I am not a US citizen. Thank you Mr. Yannetti for all you did for me and my family. You and your office were truly there for me in my darkest hour…

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“I’ve got your back,” he told me early on. David did not disappoint. By showing up with David in the courtroom, I felt I’d made a clear statement of intent. The case was duly dropped…

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