This is a question I get regularly:
I received a Massachusetts uniform citation for a criminal charge, but didn’t send it in within the 4 day deadline to request a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing.
Is there any chance I get still get a hearing date?
Or am I out of luck?
The answer is, it depends.
Sometimes you can mail it in late and it works out fine.
If the 4-day deadline has passed, you can also show up in person and drop it off.
That is what I would recommend. Go to the Clerk’s office at the court in person, as soon as possible and request a hearing.
They will usually – but not always – cut you some slack. If you are calm, reasonable, and apologetic about missing the deadline, and it’s not a month later, you have a good chance to get a hearing date issued. In any case, it is always worth a try.
Especially if it is an honest mistake. Sometimes they put have the correct address to send it to on the citation itself. Or sometimes people accidentally send it to a payment address PO Box, a not the hearing request address. Or sometimes, stuff just happens. In any case, it is always worth a try.
If You Are Too Late To Get A Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing
If you are denied a clerk magistrate’s hearing because you didn’t send the citation form in, you will get a summons to court for an arraignment, at which you will formally be charged with a crime.
This is not the end of the road, so don’t panic. It is just the beginning of an official criminal charge against you.
We will still have a number of opportunities to win the case, and get the charges dropped.
- We can fight the case in court with a motion to dismiss.
- We can take the case to trial.
We can also look for other alternatives to a guilty plea, and a criminal record, including:
- Pretrial probation
- Pretrial diversion
- drug dependent diversion
There are still a wide variety of legal defense strategies to explore, even if you are denied or lose at a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing.
I sent my citation on time but never got notice of a hearing, and the court issued me a summons to an arraignment!
We’ve seen this happen before, and it’s worked out ok ultimately, but it is a little more complicated.
The courts do screw things up. Sometimes we are still able to get a clerk’s hearing. And sometimes we can work out a deal prior to arraignment to get the charge dismissed that is basically as good as not finding cause to issue a criminal complaint at the hearing.
But let us know right away if this has happened to you. The quicker we get to work trying to fix it, the better the chance we have to resolve it favorably for you.
Give me a call to discuss your case, anytime. I can help!