Aside from the police or the district attorney applying for a criminal complaint, a private citizen may also apply for the issuance of a complaint. In this situation, the private citizen needs to go to the clerk’s office to file the paperwork. Because the complaint is not sought by the government and by a private citizen, the suspect is entitled to a show cause or clerk’s hearing. There are only a few situations in which the suspect would not be eligible for a clerk’s hearing.
At a show cause hearing, the clerk is the one that determines if a criminal complaint should be issued. The private citizen who brought the complaint usually testifies first and is allowed to bring witnesses to testify. A police officer can be one of the witnesses for either party. The suspect can then testify in his or her own defense and bring evidence or witnesses. Even though the suspect can testify, the suspect’s statements can be used against him in court. Therefore, it may not be a good idea for the suspect to testify. The suspect is also allowed to be represented by a lawyer and it is a very good idea to have one at the hearing.
The standard of proof at a clerk’s hearing is probable cause. That means that just because a criminal complaint is file, does not mean that the suspect is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the clerk denies the complaint, the complaining citizen can appeal the denial to a judge.
Call Attorney Jason Chan to talk about your case today at 508-808-8902.