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What to expect at a clerk magistrate’s hearing?

A Clerk Magistrate Hearing is a very important part of our criminal justice system. In many cases, instead of the police arresting you for a crime, you are summoned to the court via mail for a Clerk Magistrate Hearing. This hearing is your opportunity to tell your side of the story in hopes that the clerk does not move the matter forward for formal charges that remain on your criminal record. Getting the clerk to dismiss is your only opportunity to keep your criminal record clean!

The things you should know are:

1. It is very important to arrive on time, be dressed appropriately, and be prepared.

2. This hearing is not conducted in front of a judge but rather a clerk magistrate.

2. At this hearing the police will present all evidence they have against you (the formal rules of evidence do not apply at this hearing).

3. You will have the opportunity to present evidence on your behalf.

4. After all the evidence is presented the clerk will decide:

1. If it’s a civil matter, whether enough evidence was presented to find by a preponderance of the evidence that you committed a civil infraction; or

2. If it’s a criminal matter, whether there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against you.

When you appear with counsel, it shows the clerk that you are taking the matter seriously and your chances are greater that you will get a dismissal. This hearing is your opportunity to be heard and to hopefully keep your criminal record clean!

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