We Represent Clients in Magistrate Hearings in Plymouth
At Nate Amendola Defense, our Plymouth criminal defense attorney has deep experience handling all aspects of magistrate hearings. Our law firm is devoted to providing solutions-focused legal guidance and support to clients facing a full range of criminal accusations. You are not alone. If you have any questions about clerk magistrate hearings, we are here to help. Contact us today to set up your strictly confidential consultation with a top-tier Plymouth criminal defense lawyer.
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Clerk Magistrate Hearings in Plymouth: Know the Basics
In the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a clerk magistrate hearing can play a crucial role in many cases. While it does not happen in every case, a magistrate hearing is an early stage hearing that happens before the prosecution files formal criminal charges. During the hearing, the accused person will have an opportunity to raise their defense before a magistrate.
The primary task for the clerk magistrate is to decide if there is “probable cause.” Broadly speaking, probable cause is the reasonable basis to think that a crime may have happened. If the magistrate finds no probable cause, the criminal case will not proceed. However, if probable cause exists, the magistrate in Plymouth County can allow the prosecution to move forward with the case.
Three Key Stages of a Magistrate Hearing
Are you set to go before a clerk magistrate in Plymouth County? It is crucial that you understand how the process works. Broadly speaking, there are three different stages of a magistrate hearing. Here is an overview of the most important things you should know about the magistrate process:
- Opposing Testimony: Think of this part as the story-telling phase. The person who accuses you of a crime—which is often a police officer, but can also be a private individual—tells their side of the story. They may or may not present evidence, such as photographs, documents, or witness statements, to support the allegations. This is their chance to convince the magistrate that there is probable cause (a reasonable basis to believe) that you committed a criminal violation.
- Defense Against Allegations: A magistrate hearing is not a passive process for a potential defendant—or at least it should not be. You have the right to tell your side of the story and raise preliminary defenses. You can and should be represented by an experienced Plymouth, MA criminal defense attorney. Remember, for a person facing accusations, a magistrate hearing is not just about denying what has been said by the complainant. It is also providing your evidence.
- Probable Cause Determination: It is not the job of the clerk magistrate in Plymouth County to determine whether or not you committed a crime. They cannot convict a person of any criminal charge. Instead, after hearing both sides, the magistrate needs to decide if there is “probable cause” to believe a crime was committed. Only if probable cause exists does the prosecution have the ability to move forward and file formal criminal charges.
Four General Outcomes of a Magistrate Hearing in Plymouth, Massachusetts
The stakes in clerk magistrate hearing in Plymouth are high. With the ideal result, you may be able to walk away from court with no criminal charges ever being filed. On the other hand, a magistrate hearing could also start the process towards serious charges—potentially even a felony case—being pursued by state or local prosecutors. Here is an overview of the four most common outcomes that can happen in clerk magistrate hearings in Plymouth County:
- Case Dismissed (No Charges Ever Filed): The outcome that you are undoubtedly hoping for: A magistrate may decide that there is not enough evidence—meaning there is a lack of probable cause—to believe a crime occurred and/or that you committed the crime. As such, they will dismiss the case on legal grounds. No criminal charges will be filed against you, and the matter ends there. It is as if the legal system has closed the book on the matter.
- Case Continued (Additional Investigation): In some cases, a clerk magistrate in Plymouth County may feel there is some merit to the allegations but needs more evidence before making a decision. In this scenario, a case can be continued. Broadly explained, this means that it is being put on hold. No final determination on probable cause is being made. During this time, further investigation can take place. Police and prosecutors may opt to investigate the matter or, alternatively, they may decline to pursue charges.
- Case Moves Forward (Criminal Charges Filed): If the magistrate finds probable cause, they’ll move the case forward, and criminal charges can be officially filed against you. To be crystal clear, this does not mean you are guilty. A clerk magistrate does not have the authority to render a verdict. Instead, it just means there is enough evidence to take the case to the next stage of the legal process. If charges are being filed against you, it is imperative that you are represented by an experienced Plymouth, MA criminal defense lawyer.
- Pre-Trial Resolution (Diversion Program Entered): The final outcome is less common, but does occur in certain cases: Pre-trial resolution. Most often, this involves a person accused of a crime voluntarily entering some form of diversion program. It may be an option for certain types of drug possession cases. Successfully completing the program can result in the criminal case being dropped outright—allowing one to avoid a criminal record.
Take Charge: A Proactive Approach Can Make the Difference
When facing a magistrate hearing, you never want to sit back and allow the process to run its course. Quite the contrary, a proactive approach is essential. Do not wait passively: Gather evidence, seek advice from a Plymouth criminal defense lawyer, and prepare your testimony thoroughly. You need to understand the charges and the potential consequences that you could face. By taking charges, you will be better equipped to navigate the legal process.
How Plymouth, MA Criminal Defense Lawyer Nate Amendola Can Help
There is a lot at stake in a clerk magistrate hearing. You do not want to navigate the process without proper legal representation. Our founder and lead attorney Nate Amendola has the professional expertise and the commitment to results that you can trust when it matters the most. We take a proactive, holistic approach to every case. When you contact our legal team, you will have an opportunity to work with a top-tier Plymouth criminal defense attorney who can:
- Listen to what you have to say and answer questions about magistrate hearings;
- Investigate your case—gathering documents, records, and supporting evidence; and
- Develop a comprehensive, personalized strategy to protect your rights and your interests.
Every clerk magistrate hearing in Plymouth County involves its own unique set of facts and circumstances. Personalized representation is an absolute must. Nate Amendola always invests the time, the resources, and the attention to the small details to deliver the best results for our clients. Let our client testimonials and our case results tell the story.
Contact Our Plymouth Magistrate Hearing Attorney Today
At Nate Amendola Defense, our Plymouth criminal defense lawyer is standing by, ready to protect your rights and your interests. Are you preparing for a clerk magistrate hearing, we are more than ready to help. Give us a phone call now or contact us online to arrange your completely confidential, no commitment initial case review. Our firm represents clients in clerk magistrate hearings in Plymouth and throughout the wider region in Plymouth County.
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