On July 19, 2018, KL, a 28 year old male data analyst went out with his girlfriend to a restaurant/bar in Newburyport. They ate and had several drinks and then at about 10:30 PM they left the bar and got into KL’s car which was parked in the parking lot. As KL backed up, the rear end of his car came into contact with the rear bumper of another vehicle that was parked in the parking lot. According to the police report there was “minor damage” to the passenger side rear bumper of the parked vehicle. KL got out of his vehicle and walked over to the parked vehicle. There were several witnesses in the parking lot to the entire event. KL then got back into his vehicle and drove away. The police were called and responded. The witnesses told the police what had happened and furnished the registration plate number of KL’s vehicle to the police. From the plate number the police were able to ascertain the owner of the offending vehicle (KL). The police then went into the restaurant/bar and showed the bartender a photo of KL (which the police had obtained on their portable data terminal from the Registry of Motor Vehicles). The bartender immediately identified the picture of KL as a customer who had been in the bar with a woman. The bartender was able to get the credit card charge slip that KL had signed and it bore KL’s name.
The police attempted to speak with KL but were not successful. The police issued a citation for Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage collision. KL consulted with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. Attorney Lewin instructed KL to immediately request a hearing before a Clerk-Magistrate at the Newburyport District Court which KL did. Attorney Lewin was able to obtain a copy of the Police Narrative Report. Attorney Lewin reached out to the police prosecutor to see if a resolution of the case could be reached at the Clerk-Magistrate hearing. On September 7, 2018 KL and Attorney Lewin appeared at the Newburyport District Court for the Clerk-Magistrate hearing. The owner of the struck vehicle was not present. The purpose of a Clerk-Magistrate hearing is for the Clerk to decide whether there is probable cause to issue the complaint. If the Clerk-Magistrate finds no probable cause then no complaint will be issued. If the Clerk-Magistrate finds probable cause then the Clerk-Magistrate may issue the complaint; or the Clerk-Magistrate may, in his or her discretion, continue the hearing for a period of time and at the end of that period of time if there are no reports of any further trouble with the law then the Clerk-Magistrate will dismiss the application for the criminal complaint and not issue the complaint.
At the hearing on September 7, 2018 the notion of an Accord & Satisfaction was discussed. There is a statute in Massachusetts that provides as follows: