THE SHOW CAUSE OR CLERK’S HEARING

Where a person has not been arrested, a police officer or a private citizen may apply for the issuance of process, which may be a summons or an arrest warrant. If the complainant is seeking a complaint charging a misdemeanor and the person has not been arrested, the person complained against is entitled to a show cause hearing and an opportunity to be heard in opposition to the issuance of the complaint. G.L. c. 218, § 35A. Where a complainant seeks a felony complaint, however, the person complained against is only entitled to a clerk’s hearing (Show Cause) if the complainant is a police officer who affirmatively requested such a hearing. G.L. c. 218, § 35A.

The standard of evidence at a Show Cause hearing is probable cause and the magistrate has broad discretion in how the hearing is conducted, including the right to restrict cross-examination of witnesses. If the magistrate finds probable cause, a complaint will be issued, and you’ll be given a date to appear for your arraignment.

These hearings are your opportunity to stop the complaint and have the court dismiss your case before you are formally charged in district court at an arraignment. If you win at a clerk’s hearing, there will be no record of the charge on your criminal record. The drawback is that the statements you make at clerk’s hearing can be used against you later on in the judicial process should the case not be disposed of at the clerk’s hearing. This is why you should always have an attorney with you at a clerk’s hearing.

If you have received a summons for a criminal charge, whether it be a civilian or police officer, it is important to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. Call 508-579-8333 to speak with criminal defense attorney Jonathan D. Molleur.

This information does not constitute legal advice and is written for general information purposes only. Individuals should consult with a lawyer for specific legal advice.

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