A Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing, also known as a Show Cause Hearing, occurs when you have been accused of committing a misdemeanor crime, but have not been formally arrested yet. This usually happens when there has been a private complaint made against you. A law enforcement officer may also fill out an application requesting the court to issue a notice for a Show Cause hearing when a crime is alleged to have occurred.
The purpose of a clerk’s hearing is to determine whether there’s a probable cause for the criminal charge to proceed to arraignment, meaning that you would be formally charged. According to Massachusetts’s statutes, a misdemeanor crime is one that is not punishable by confinement in state prison. Examples are:
- First and second driving offenses (OUI/DWI)
- Disorderly conduct
- Assault and battery
For these and other misdemeanor offenses, there is no possibility of serving state time, but there are other penalties such as jail time in a county facility, probation, fines and/or community service.
You can find out whether your charge is a misdemeanor by studying the statutory cite for the crime on the charging document.
A clerk magistrate hearing happens before a District Court clerk magistrate. A police prosecutor or the individual who has made a complaint against you will try to show that there is enough probable cause indicating that a crime occurred, and, if the Clerk Magistrate agrees, a formal criminal charge will issue against you.
It would be in your best interest to have an experienced criminal lawyer with you for this hearing to defend your rights. Attorney Melanie Soloman is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has successfully represented clients at Clerk Magistrate Hearings in Massachusetts.
Contact her today at the Law Office of Melanie Soloman at (508) 808-4944.