Probation, Bail, & Clerk's Hearings in Massachusetts

   Serving Greater Boston, Essex, Middlesex, & Suffolk Counties

Mark Thomas has personally handled Clerk Magistrate Hearings for Commonwealth prosecutors for years. This gives you the rare opportunity to leverage his UNFAIR ADVANTAGE and put the law on your side.

Clerk Magistrate Hearings

If you have received a notice in the mail telling you to appear for a hearing to determine if a complaint should be issued against you, don't go alone. You should not defend yourself at this legal proceeding as it is the first step in the issuance of a criminal prosecution against you. A criminal defense attorney is better equipped to handle the hearing and to get the charges dismissed if possible.

A Clerk Magistrate's hearing in Massachusetts is also known as a "show cause" hearing. The purpose of this type of hearing is to screen out cases that should not result in the issuance of criminal misdemeanor charges. A defendant is entitled to a clerk's hearing for misdemeanor offenses only (assault & battery, shoplifting, or drug possession) that were not committed in the presence of a police officer. As a rule, police do not have the authority to arrest an individual for misdemeanors not committed in their presence. Instead, the police must apply for a complaint at the local district or municipal court. Exceptions to this rule are crimes such as domestic assault and battery which have by statute become arrestable offenses.

A Clerk Magistrate's hearing is an informal proceeding where the rules of evidence are relaxed. The hearing is conducted before a clerk instead of a judge. The proceedings are not recorded and there is no public record of what transpires in a clerk's hearing. The clerk's role is to consider the evidence before him, not to decide guilt or innocence, or to rule on possible defenses or to determine credibility. Before a clerk will issue a criminal complaint he must hear evidence which constitutes that a crime has been committed. Despite this fact, a Clerk's hearing creates an excellent opportunity to resolve a case before the actual criminal complaint issues.

Application for Complaint

Typically a defendant will be called in to a clerk's hearing via a criminal citation or summons which he or she receives through the mail. The document that the defendant receives will be an "application for complaint". An application for complaint is applied for instead of arresting and arraigning the defendant on a misdemeanor charge.

Why Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer for a Clerks or Bail Hearing?

An experienced criminal defense attorney understands the criminal process and knows how the police and clerks evaluate cases. An attorney can identify problems in a criminal charge and focus on them in an attempt to get a complaint dismissed. Being represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney conveys a message to the court that you view the circumstances seriously, that you are mindful of the clerk's authority to issue criminal complaints and that you are aware that you will receive a criminal record if the complaint against you issues.

Boston criminal defense attorney Mark C. Thomas has found that, depending on the circumstances of each case, most Clerk Magistrates will listen to mitigating facts and will entertain alternative resolutions of cases if the parties can agree. Mr. Thomas has been successful when he negotiates with the police prior to the hearing in working out settlements which are satisfactory not only to the police but, more importantly, to his client.

A resolution of the dispute in turn gives the clerks good cause to dismiss the complaints that could be issued. If the complaint is dismissed you will not be charged or have to appear in court as a criminal defendant and nothing that has transpired during the clerk's hearing will appear on your criminal record.

The Boston, Massachusetts Attorney for Probation Violation Accusations

If you are under probation for any conviction or continuance without a finding, you are under contract with the Commonwealth to maintain certain restrictions and activities. There are different types of probation you may be under.

  • Administrative probation - a form of noncontact supervision in which an offender who presents a low risk of harm to the community.
  • Supervised probation - a form of contact supervision in which an offender who presents a higher risk of harm to the community.
  • Also note: as a condition of probation you may be under the supervision of the Office of Community Corrections OCC, or in drug court, or on sex offender probation.

All are serious matters and must be dealt with accordingly. It's your life and if you want to keep it on track, you are advised to follow orders as specified in your specific case. Boston criminal defense attorney Mark C. Thomas can handle your VOP (Violation of Probation) matter quickly and effectively. Do not hesitate to call his office today to set up an appointment for a face-to-face meeting.

Reducing a Criminal Charge to a Civil Case MGL 277, § 70c