Cambridge, Court Magistrate Hearings

The Massachusetts court system can be confusing for sure, especially if you are being accused of a crime for the first time and have no idea what you’re supposed to do next. Thankfully, the defense attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP have historical roots in Cambridge, with 50 years of experience helping clients like you answer questions and navigate the justice system.

One of the most difficult and scary experiences in life is to be arrested or sent a criminal citation in the mail. It indicates something we hope never happens to us, but unfortunately happens to thousands of people every day – that you have been accused of a crime.

However, it is an important distinction to know that being accused with a crime is not the same as being charged with a crime. You can be accused of any crime in the books, from simple misdemeanor shoplifting to a major felony such as trafficking narcotics. However, until you are officially charged with a crime, an accusation is simply that; an accusation.

While many people might believe you go before a judge as soon as you are accused of a crime, what actually happens is a little more complicated – however it is more complicated in a good way, as it opens up a crucial opportunity for your criminal accusation to be dismissed before you are even charged with the crime in question.

What is a Clerk Magistrate Hearing?

Following the receipt of a criminal citation, you will sign the form and will eventually receive a date to appear at what is called a clerk magistrate hearing. To put it simply, this is the first step in the district court process where a clerk magistrate (an officer of the court) will hear the basic details of the crime you stand accused of.

In a hearing, a prosecutor will make their case that you should be charged of the crime for which you stand accused, and it is our job to present evidence or point out a lack of evidence which raises doubts about you being guilty of the crime. If we present enough reason for the clerk magistrate to doubt that you should be charged with the crime, the court process ends here and the criminal citation is dismissed. This is the best possible outcome.

If the clerk magistrate finds enough reason to officially charge you with the crime, however, you will be given a date to appear in front of a district court judge for arraignment. While this is not the ideal outcome, it does not mean that you are doomed to suffer the worst possible consequences.

We’ll Give You The Knowledge You Need

At your arraignment, you will have many options available to you, such as pleading no contest to the crime and accepting less severe charges, pleading guilty for a deal that we arrange or pleading not guilty of the crimes you stand accused of and taking the criminal charge through an official court trial. The choice is ultimately up to you for what to do, and it is our job to make sure you understand the full extent of what each choice means for you and your specific situation.

This is why having an experienced defense attorney is so important to have by your side from the moment you stand accused of a crime. The clerk magistrate hearing is the best chance you will have to have an accusation against you dropped outright, which will have no long-term impact on your criminal record. However, should you be officially charged, only a defense attorney can help you make the right choices that result in the least severe consequences, or a favorable outcome in a courtroom trial.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 50 years of experience defending our clients in Cambridge District Court, regardless of what crimes they were accused. We will take our extensive experience and use it to your benefit, so contact us today a free consultation to go over the details of your case today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.

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