Clerk's Hearings

If you get a notice that you are a defendant in a criminal clerk magistrate’s hearing, get an attorney immediately.

Attorney Kathleen M. McCarthy routinely represents clients at clerk’s hearings in Essex, Suffolk and Middlesex Counties. She has prevented the issuance of criminal charges for many clients. If you have received notification of a clerk’s hearing, contact Attorney McCarthy online or at 978-975-8060, and she will respond immediately.

In the event that an individual is not arrested for a misdemeanor and the police believe that there is probable cause to charge for a crime, law enforcement may choose to file for a clerk’s hearing at the local courthouse. Occasionally, the police elect to have a clerk’s hearings for felonies. Lawrence District Court conducts show cause or clerk’s hearings for a variety of offenses ranging from domestic abuse claims to drug charges. Lawrence District Court is located at 2 Appleton Street, Lawrence, MA. These hearings are conducted throughout the day, and the summons reflects the time that the hearing is scheduled to occur. Most local courts conducts these types of hearings on a daily basis including Concord District Court, Lowell District Court, Haverhill District Court and Somerville District Court.

People often make the mistake of thinking that a “clerk’s hearing” is no big deal and if things do not go well then they will retain an attorney. This is a bad idea. An experienced criminal defense attorney can pose the correct questions to the complaining witness or police prosecutor in such a way that the defendant would not have to speak at all. Too frequently individuals appear at a clerk’s hearing and give “their side of the story” and unwittingly incriminate themselves and make matters worse. Furthermore, these hearings are often recorded and anything that is said by a litigant can be used against him or her in the event that the charges issue against them. Having a local Massachusetts lawyer from Lawrence, Concord, Lowell, Haverhill or Somerville who can present your case without you having to speak is invaluable. Also, it is much less expensive to hire an attorney for the hearing than have to retain one for a criminal case in the event that the charges are issued.

Typical Crimes In Which A Clerk’s Hearing Is Granted

In Massachusetts, the types of criminal offenses in which a citizen will receive a clerk’s hearing are misdemeanors including assault, assault and battery, threats, violation of a restraining order, shoplifting, minor in possession of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident and possession of controlled substances. A misdemeanor is a crime in which the potential penalty is jail and not state prison. In other words, for a case to be a misdemeanor the worst possible sentence would be a commitment to the house of correction, as opposed to Walpole or Norfolk State Prison. Under some circumstances, a clerk’s hearing will occur for felony offenses.

Typically, a clerk faces a situation in which a civilian witness approaches the counter and seeks to take out criminal charges against another citizen for a misdemeanor incident that was not witnessed by the police. In situations where an individual is claiming that a party violated a restraining order, a clerk’s hearing can be sought unless the police or clerk believes that the complainant is in danger of physical harm. If the alleged violation is a non-threatening phone call or text, a clerk’s hearing is usually scheduled. Other instances in which a clerk’s hearing takes place include situations when the police respond to a call for a house party and the attendees scatter upon the police arrival. If the police believe that there were underage individuals at a party who were in possession of alcohol, summons may issue for the guests being minors in possession of alcohol. If your child or anyone that you know receives this type of summons, it is imperative that a lawyer be contacted.

A qualified attorney is familiar with the myriad options available for disposing of a case without having a complaint issue. Keeping in mind that seventeen is the age in which a person is prosecuted as an adult in Massachusetts, high school students exercising poor judgment in one situation could be strapped with a criminal record without proper representation.

Getting A Good Result

Attorney McCarthy is an experienced lawyer familiar with the local district courts, and she employs negotiation strategies and knowledge of the law to prevent the issuance of a criminal complaint.

Getting out of a clerk’s hearing without having a complaint issue is a great result. If the complaint does not issue and the person is not arraigned, then there is NO record of the incident at all. Avoiding the issuance of the charge and arraignment is the only way to ensure that the case will never show up on a background check to potential employers.

Case Results » Clerk’s Hearings
  • Clerk Declines To Issue Complaint For A Minor In Possession Of Alcohol [M.G.L. ch. 138 Section 34C].

    Following a celebration at the beach, a group of youths found themselves summonsed to court for being a minor in possession of alcohol. According to police, there attention was drawn to a group of young individuals who appeared to have, what appeared to be alcoholic beverages in their hands. Upon approaching the group, the officers questioned who they believed were drinking and smelled the solo cups that they were drinking from. As a result of this, many of the previously excited partiers, were banished from the beach and summonsed to court.

    During the client's court hearing, our office outlined the impressive background of the defendant including his academic, civic and professional accomplishments. Following the hearing the clerk did NOT issue the complaint. Due to the fact that the complaint did NOT issue and the defendant was NEVER arraigned, the unfortunate incident will NEVER interfere with his future educational and employment opportunities.

    Read More in Pretrial Diversion

  • Clerk-Magistrate Denies Criminal Complaint For Shoplifting Against Non-Citizen Defendant

    A non-citizen client received a summons to appear for a Clerk-Magistrate's hearing for shoplifting. Although many individuals believe that this is a minor offense, this type of charge can interfere with someone's efforts to become a U.S. citizen and can also be grounds for deporting a non-citizen from this country.

    Realizing the significance of the charge, our office engaged in lengthy witnesses interviews and prepared a persuasive case for the hearing. Following the presentation of the Commonwealth's case and a presentation by our office which included the defendant's impressive work and civic history the Clerk declined to issue the complaint. The client left the courthouse without having to worry about his status in this country and the possibility of being separated from his family.

    Read More in Shoplifting

  • Clerk Magistrate Declines to Issue Complaint for Leaving the Scene of an Accident After Causing Property Damage Despite Defendant's Record

    The defendant was on probation for a serious crime in another court when he received a summons to appear for an arraignment on the charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing property damage to a home. Realizing that if the defendant was arraigned he would fact a surrender hearing in another court, our office filed a MOTION TO DISMISS PRIOR TO ARRAIGNEMNT claiming that the client was entitled to a clerk's hearing because the charge was a misdemeanor which was not committed in the presence of a police officer.  The judge agreed and the complaint was dismissed.

    The police resubmitted the paperwork and the client received notification of a Clerk-Magistrate's hearing. Our office successful argued that although the defendant had a criminal record, he was doing well professionally and personally at this time and requested that the clerk not issue process. The clerk agreed and the complaint did NOT issue.

    Read More in Probation Violation Hearings