Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle: Clerk Magistrate Hearing

Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Representing Clients at Clerk Magistrate Hearings

Being charged with a driving offense can have huge consequences on your freedom, ability to get to and from work, and more. If you’ve been cited with Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, a show cause or Clerk Magistrate hearing can be the first opportunity to defend yourself and provides a good chance to end the case early before it gets to court in front of a judge and in a prosecutor’s hands.

Massachusetts Clerk Magistrate or Show Cause Hearings

A Clerk Magistrate is a court official who determines if there is probable cause that a crime occurred. Like at other stages of a criminal proceeding, you are entitled to certain rights and procedures at this hearing, and it is wise to hire a qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer before responding or appearing before a Clerk Magistrate. While the standard of probable cause is not difficult to satisfy, a successful Clerk Magistrate hearing can prevent a criminal complaint from issuing against you, and can end the matter altogether and save you time, money and the prospect of facing a criminal and civil charges in court.

Not everyone who is charged with Negligent Operation will be automatically scheduled for a Clerk Magistrate hearing. These hearings typically occur in one of two ways.

If You’ve Been Summonsed for a Clerk Magistrate Hearing for Negligent Operation

If the incident in question was not witnessed by the police, you will most likely be summonsed for a Clerk Magistrate hearing. This most commonly occurs when your driving was reported by a private, third party. Private parties may report the matter to police and it is law enforcement that may file the application for criminal complaint for Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle with the Clerk Magistrate’s Office.

To Request a Clerk Magistrate Hearing for Negligent Operation

If you receive a citation for Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, you must request a Clerk Magistrate hearing within four days of receiving the citation. This should be done by bringing the citation to the District Court with jurisdiction over the alleged incident or mailing the signed citation to the court right away. If you do not request a hearing within four days of receiving a motor vehicle citation, your right to a hearing may be waived and the case will proceed to arraignment in the District Court. If the four-day period has passed, some clerk’s offices will still allow you to schedule a hearing. Once requested, these hearings are scheduled fairly promptly so it is best to call an attorney right away to coordinate a date for the hearing with the clerk’s office and law enforcement. The other way that these cases proceed is if you have been stopped by the police and arrested for negligent or reckless operation of a motor vehicle. If so, you will be brought to the court as soon as possible for an arraignment.

It can be to your significant advantage to be represented by a criminal defense attorney during the Clerk Magistrate hearing. The attorney can protect your Fifth Amendment privilege against incriminating yourself by talking and the attorney can present evidence in your defense or in mitigation of the allegation. This hearing is your first opportunity to ensure that no criminal charges are filed against you, and that the charge will not appear on your criminal record or CORI. Even if a criminal complaint is issued at the conclusion of this hearing, the Clerk Magistrate hearing is an opportunity for you understand the facts and the Commonwealth’s case against you and the strength or weaknesses of a case.

It may also be helpful to have an attorney review your citation for Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle. Deficiencies in the citation could lead to a dismissal of the case where a citation was not timely served upon you.

Experienced and Successful Clerk Magistrate Hearing Lawyer

If you have been accused of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, the show cause or Clerk Magistrate hearing is an important step in defending yourself. Whether you’ve been summoned for a hearing or you’d like to request one, you should seriously consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record defending criminal motor vehicle offenses.

The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy can help you keep your license and your freedom. For over two decades throughout Massachusetts, Attorney Patrick Murphy has gotten hundreds of cases dismissed at the Clerk Magistrate level. Boston criminal defense attorney Murphy provides a free and confidential telephone call or office visit to discuss the facts of your situation. Attorney Murphy offers reasonable rates for clerk magistrate hearings and you can reach him now at 617-367-0450 or by completing the online contact form on our website.

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