The standard at a clerk’s hearing is probable cause that a crime occurred. The clerk determines whether there is enough cause to issue a criminal complaint or to take no action. These hearings are not open to the public and are not subject to open meeting laws. The way the proceedings are held is completely up to the clerk. However, most clerks usually allow the complainant either the police or the victim to explain their side of the story first. Then the clerk allows the accused to explain their side of the story if they so choose. Finally, after all the testimony is heard, the clerk will make a decision.
So if you receive a notice for a clerk’s hearing, what should you do? You should contact an attorney right away. To put together a good case hearing, your attorney will need the proper amount of time to prepare. It is true that the hearings are not recorded, but anything you say during a hearing is considered an admission, and can be used against you in court later on. It is also possible to get a lot of these complaints resolved during the clerk’s hearing. If the case is resolved during the clerk’s hearing, the charges are never officially filed, and as a result are not recorded on your criminal record.
A lot of people want to go to these hearings themselves without an attorney. Most people believe that as long as they tell their story everything will be fine. The reality is you need to be able to explain your story in the right way. Even if you are able to get a case dismissed later on in the court process, your record will still show that you were charged with the crime. So be smart and hire an attorney as soon as you can.
Massachusetts Bar Association explanation of show cause hearing
Mass. law updates stating that there is no right to access show cause hearings
Attorney Elliot Savitz explanation of show cause hearing with video
For more information: visit www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902