Yes. Massachusetts law gives you the right to be represented by counsel at a clerk magistrate hearing. You should put careful consideration into who will represent you, as the quality of your defense attorney is vital to your success at the hearing. If you don’t secure competent counsel, you could end up with a jail sentence, high fines, and a criminal record.
Benefits of Having a Defense Lawyer at Your Clerk Magistrate Hearing
The most significant benefit to having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side is that your entire case could be dismissed on the day of the hearing. A solid legal argument can often convince the clerk magistrate to deny the complaint against you or put off sentencing, so you won’t have to deal with the negative consequences of a conviction.
Your attorney can advocate for you in many ways, including:
- Questioning evidence. The clerk magistrate can only issue a complaint if there is probable cause that a crime occurred. This is a relatively low burden of proof, so you need a lawyer who understands legal case law regarding the elements necessary to establish probable cause. Questioning the evidence or showing that evidence was illegally obtained can remove the basis for the complaint.
- Protecting you from self-incrimination. Your attorney will prepare you for the hearing to ensure you give your best possible testimony. Since anything you say at these hearings can be used against you at a later criminal proceeding or trial, your attorney will be standing by to assert your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
- Questioning witnesses. After your accuser and any witnesses have given their testimonies, your attorney will have the opportunity to question the witnesses to ensure the validity of the evidence. The right questions can expose inconsistencies in a witness’s story, a witness’s bias against you, or an ulterior motive in providing witness testimony.
- Arguing to defer the decision. If the charges against you cannot be dismissed altogether, your attorney may be able to convince the magistrate to defer the complaint. Also called “holding the case open,” this option is available when probable cause exists, but the magistrate, police, and prosecutor agree to hold off on charging you for a set period of time. If you do not commit any further offenses and meet all of the conditions of the deferment, the clerk will not issue the complaint. Conditions typically include attempts at rectifying the cause of the offense (such as completion of a drug or alcohol program) or an attempt to make amends (such as completion of community service).
- Saving you from high costs. A lawyer who can convince the magistrate to dismiss your case in the early stages is not just saving you stress and criminal consequences, they are also saving you money. If your case proceeds to trial, you will face significant legal fees and potentially high fines if convicted—but you pay nothing to defend against a complaint that does not issue.
It’s not too late
Speak With a Masachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The earlier you get a knowledgeable defense lawyer involved in your case, the better prepared you will be for whatever your case holds. The prosecuting attorney has seen (and likely won) many similar cases to yours and knows precisely how the court system works and how to get a magistrate to issue a complaint. With so much at stake, you need someone tenacious who will craft a strong defense based on the specific factors of your case.
If you have gotten a notice to show up for a clerk magistrate hearing, your future is hanging in the balance. At Nate Amendola Defense, we do everything we can to mitigate the charges against you and prevent the fallout from the offense from ruining your life. You can contact us online or call our office directly at 781-740-0800 to schedule your free consultation with one of our top notch defense lawyers. We have been proudly servicing clients throughout Hingham, Massachusetts and surrounding areas such as Plymouth, Barnstable, Nantucket, and more.
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