If you receive a citation for a criminal charge, you are required to respond within the four-day deadline to request the clerk magistrate’s hearing. When you do not respond within that deadline, you may wonder what your chances are for a hearing and what will happen because of your failure to respond.
Unfortunately there is not a clear cut answer in these situations. There are instances where defendants can mail in their citation late and everything is still scheduled. Sometimes it is best to go to the clerk’s office in person at the four-day deadline and submit the citation in person to receive a hearing date. Sometimes delivering the citation in person can result in a hearing date – regardless of whether you are a few days late.
What Happens if a Clerk Magistrate Hearing Is Not Issued?
If a clerk magistrate hearing is denied, defendants will receive a summons to court for their arraignment. At this point, the individual will be formally charged with a crime and the judge will set a bond amount – or hold the defendant over until trial.
Even if a defendant is not issued a hearing, it does not mean they have no chances for recovering their case. There are still numerous opportunities a defense attorney will have to help see that the charges are dropped, such as:
- Fighting the case in court with a motion to dismiss.
- An attorney can still take the case to trial and win the case.
If the defendant is guilty and the evidence is against them, the attorney can look at alternatives to pleading guilty, including:
- Negotiating a pre-trial probation period
- Negotiating a pre-trial diversion program
- Having the district attorney consider drug dependent diversion programs
What Do Magistrate Hearings Do?
Clerk magistrate hearings are not the same as an official trial. Instead, the hearing is less formal and is overseen by a judge. Here the rules of evidence are relaxed and a defendant can hear the official charges and hear testimony from witnesses to the alleged crime. The purpose of this hearing is to help the judge determine if there is sufficient evidence to issue a formal complaint and proceed to trial. If the judge overseeing the hearing does not feel there is sufficient evidence, the district attorney’s office will be unable to move forward.
If you have been ordered to appear, it is important that you fill out the citation and request the hearing as soon as possible. Doing so could result in a dismissal before a formal complaint is filed. By having adequate representation during this process, a defendant can provide a strong defense to the evidence being used against them, and the clerk may decide to dismiss or hold the case until there are any reoccurrences of criminal behavior.
Speak with a Boston Criminal Defense Attorney – Contact Keegan Law Now
If you have received a citation, do not wait. Contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance with your clerk magistrate’s hearing. Keegan Law offers free case evaluations and can help prepare a defense for your magistrate hearing. This critical step could determine the outcome of your case and even determine if the case ever goes to trial. Get started by contacting Keegan Law online or by calling (617) 799-7644 now.