Should I Have an Attorney Present at a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing?
YES! Applications for Criminal Complaints are filed by a police officer or a witness to an alleged crime. The application is reviewed by a clerk magistrate and a hearing is scheduled to determine whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed (outside the purview of a police officer) and whether a criminal complaint should issue.
The alleged defendant will be summoned to the clerk magistrate’s hearing. It is imperative for him or her to have an attorney represent them at the hearing. The role of the attorney is to prevent a criminal complaint from issuing. It is worth investing $1000 or less in an experienced attorney to prevent the complaint from issuing and an entry on your criminal record.
What Happens BEFORE a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing?
Attorneys Tourkantonis and Delaney will prepare for the hearing by obtaining the police report, meeting with you, talking with witnesses, and investigating the scene of the alleged crime. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers will speak to the police prosecutor before the hearing and ascertain whether they would be in favor of resolving the matter without the complaint issuing. Sometimes the prosecutor will agree to dismiss the application outright or continue the matter for a period of time to make sure the defendant stays out of trouble. Those results are MUCH better than the complaint issuing, and cannot be obtained without experienced representation by attorneys Tourkantonis and Delaney.
What Happens DURING a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing?
Present at the hearing are the clerk magistrate and police prosecutor and/or witnesses. Nither the prosecutor nor the clerk work for you. They work for the Commonwealth and represent the complaining witness, not you or your interests. The clerk magistrate alone determines whether enough evidence exists to issue a criminal complainant, based on the reading of the report by the police prosecutor or testimony by the witnesses.
At the hearing, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will introduce evidence and/or witnesses and speak on your behalf. Without an attorney, you will be asked questions by the clerk and provide testimony and evidence that WILL be used against you if the complaint issues. Most hearings are recorded. Our clients are always advised to refrain from making any statements to the police, recorded or not.
Without experienced legal representation at these hearings, the criminal complaint usually issues. With experienced legal representation, the clerk and police prosecutor are often persuaded to continue the matter, thereby preventing the charges from being recorded on your criminal record. Once the criminal complaint issues, the criminal charges will appear on the accused’s criminal record and your matter will be added to the court’s trial list.
What is the Cost of Legal Representation at a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing?
What is the value of preserving your criminal record? What is the value of persuading the clerk magistrate to continue the matter and NOT issue a criminal complaint? What is the value of resolving the issue short of trial? District Court trials cost anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on the charges. Investing $1,000 in our attorneys to represent you at a hearing is well worth the cost.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys Tourkantonis and Delaney will advocate zealously to ensure the criminal complaint does not issue and to preserve your criminal record. Contact them for a complimentary, initial consultation as soon as you receive notice of a hearing.
By Tourkantonis & Delaney, PC