There are a number of ways one can be charged with a criminal act. One possible way is for the police to arrest the individual and bring him or her before the court. Another way is for someone to file an Application for a Criminal Complaint. This application can be filed by any individual; it does not need to be filed by a police officer.

Typically, an individual will receive notice in the mail that someone is alleging that they had engaged in certain criminal activity. This notice will inform the individual of the alleged crimes and provide them with a date and time to come to court. It is important that the individual arrive on time for this hearing as obtaining a default can allow the criminal complaint to succeed and move to the next level.


At the Clerk-Magistrate hearing, the Clerk-Magistrate will listen to the evidence. Unlike at trial, the rules of evidence are much more relaxed and so information that might not be able to come in at trial can come in at this hearing. Typically, the Complainant, the one who filed the application, will go first and then the defendant may present his or her defense.

The standard at trials is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which means to a moral certainty. At a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing; however, the standard is probable cause. This means that the Clerk-Magistrate need only find that more likely than not, the facts are true.

A number of things can occur at this hearing. First, the case could be dismissed or it could proceed to trial. If it goes to trial, the Clerk-Magistrate could determine that the alleged offense warrants holding the defendant. This means that the individual will be incarcerated at least until the next court date or unless he or she can post bail. Additionally, the defendant could choose to plead guilty to the offense.

At this type of hearing, it is important to have someone who can show that there is no probable cause for the complaint. This means having knowledge of the facts and the statutes that are implicated and knowing what does and does not constitute probable cause. While some seek to represent themselves at this hearing, it is advantageous to have an attorney who is familiar with the law and the facts to handle the case.

If you have been notified that you are to appear at a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing, don’t go it alone, make sure you know your rights and get the representation that you deserve by contacting The Law Office of Barry J. Bisson today.