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What is a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing in Massachusetts?

clerk-magistrate hearing Massachusetts

A clerk-magistrate hearing (also known as clerk’s hearing, probable cause hearing, or show cause hearing) is an excellent way to avoid the criminal process altogether. If you have been given notice of a clerk-magistrate hearing, it’s important to hire a criminal defense attorney immediately to help you gather evidence.

I have done dozens of clerk-magistrate hearings as a Harvard Defender, where I was successful in getting many people’s charges dismissed.

If you have received a summons for a clerk magistrate hearing, call or text me now at (617) 295-7500.  Let’s get started on your defense.

When am I Entitled to a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing?

If you are charged with a misdemeanor and not arrested, you will generally receive notice to appear for a clerk-magistrate hearing.  You will receive notice in the mail of the hearing.  Call a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you.

Do I have to Show Up?

You do not have to show up, but it would be a mistake not to appear for your hearing. A clerk-magistrate hearing can allow you to find out what the Commonwealth’s evidence is, and the magistrate can dismiss the charges, meaning it would not be on your record. It’s critical to appear and hire a lawyer.

Do I need a Lawyer for my Clerk Magistrate Hearing?

In short, yes. A lawyer can help you avoid the charges completely and protect your record.  An attorney could also gather evidence to help prepare for your defense. If you received a summons, it’s important to contact a Massachusetts criminal lawyer immediately.

What Happens in a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing?

The procedure differs per court, but generally, a police officer or witness testifies. You can also choose to present evidence. The magistrate can either choose to issue the complaint or not issue the complaint. The magistrate can choose not to issue a complaint even if there’s probable cause.

Generally, it is not advisable for you to testify at a clerk-magistrate hearing because this can be used against you later if the complaint issues. You should allow your attorney to speak for you.

There are also other options the magistrate can do. They could continue the case for a period of time and dismiss it if there are no further problems.

If the complaint is issued, you will be sent to district court for an arraignment.

Contact me now if you have been given a summons for a clerk-magistrate hearing. I’d be glad to help!


Although I am an attorney, I am not your attorney.  Please do not rely on anything on this page as legal advice because any specific advice would depend on your situation.  Any results posted on this page are not guarantees of outcomes in your case.

Boston Attorney

The court system is stressful, whether you’re being charged with a crime, being sued, suing someone, or fighting for your ability to stay and work in this country. You need someone who appreciates this and can dedicate the time not only to represent you effectively in court but to guide you through the process.

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