Client Story: Clerk Magistrate Hearings Can Be an Option – Peter’s Story
Peter came to our offices seeking help. He is 20 years old and a business major at a Boston area college. He’s a good kid who spends his summers working with the Sheriff’s Department at their youth camps and he’s never been in trouble.
One evening Peter is headed for a party. He’s bringing some beer with him. Friends driving to the party pull over to offer him a lift. He gets in the car – beer in hand and sitting next to beer his friends are bringing – and they head for the party.
The car was stopped by the police for a minor traffic violation. Peter, feeling panicked by being stopped underage with beer in the car, tries to hide the beer with his coat. He doesn’t do a good enough job, the police see the beer and everyone in the car is issued a summons because they are minors in possession of alcohol.
Peter came looking for our help. Peter had not been arrested, so he was entitled to a hearing before a clerk magistrate and we advised him that this was the best way for us to proceed.
Going before a Clerk Magistrate can be simpler and less expensive than going to trial. Peter was able to go before the Clerk Magistrate in Woburn, MA and tell the magistrate a bit about himself. At the hearing, Peter showed that he had never been in trouble before, that he was a good student, and that his had landed before the magistrate because he had exercised some youthful poor judgement in getting beer underage and trying to hide it.
As is typical for this type of situation, the clerk magistrate assigned Peter to perform community service and put him on probation for three months. As long as Peter performs his community service and does not have any further run-ins with the law during his probationary period he will come out the other side without any record.
The most important lesson to learn from Peter’s story is that you need to get ahead of the situation. Getting legal help right away can help you find the easiest path to protect yourself and your record.