Articles Posted in Clerk-Magistrate Hearings

TN, a 31 year old website developer, owns a home in Peabody. He rents out rooms in the house. A young woman and her boyfriend rented one of the rooms. Arguments developed between TN and the woman and her boyfriend. TN owns a cross-bow and a bow and arrow set. The tenants filed charges against TN alleging that TN had broken into their room and stole items from their room. The boyfriend also alleged that TN had pointed the cross bow at him and said that he would kill him. TN came to see Attorney Lewin and Attorney Lewin was confident that the charges could be defeated. A hearing before a clerk-magistrate at Peabody District Court was scheduled. An application for a criminal complaint had been filed against TN by the woman and her boyfriend. The application sought to have charges of Assault & Battery by Dangerous Weapon (the crossbow), Breaking and Entering, and Larceny Over $250.00 be issued against TN. To gain leverage TN filed an application for a criminal complaint to be issued against the tenant for larceny.

On June 6, 2017 Attorney Lewin, TN, the woman, and her boyfriend all appeared for a hearing in Peabody District Court before a Clerk-Magistrate. It was important for TN to avoid having a felony charge be issued against him because he works in high tech. At the conclusion of the hearing Attorney Lewin argued to the Clerk that none of these people should want to be in a criminal court. Attorney Lewin argued that this was really a dispute over money between a landlord and his tenants. In the end the Clerk-Magistrate denied the applications for criminal complaint. TN walked out of the Court with no criminal charges being issued against him. As a result of this disposition TN has NO criminal record.

TQ, a 29 year old woman from India with a degree in Computer Science, was apprehended on February 14, 2017 at a store at the Burlington Mall and charged with Larceny Over $250.00. The charge arose out of her stealing a $425.00 pair of designer sunglasses. Normally, stealing at the mall results in a charge of shoplifting (a misdemeanor). In this case, however, the police charged her with Larceny Over $250 (a felony). TQ consulted with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. Fortunately for TQ the police set the charge up for a hearing before a Clerk-Magistrate. This is critical. The police have three choices at the outset of a criminal case: (1) the Police can arrest the individual in which event the person is brought before a Judge for an arraignment on a criminal complaint and a criminal record is created; (2) the Police can release the individual without an arrest and have the court issue a criminal complaint and a summons for the person to come to court for an arraignment in which event a criminal record is created; or (3) the Police can chose not to arrest and not to summons the person to court but rather the police can file an application for a criminal complaint with the Clerk-Magistrate of the Court and request that the Clerk-Magistrate set the application down for a hearing before a Clerk-Magistrate. This third option – which is rarely used when the criminal charge is a felony – gives the accused person a chance to avoid prosecution and avoid a criminal record. In this third option the Clerk decides whether or not a criminal complaint (and summons) will actually be issued against the accused. That is the option the police chose with TQ.

Immediately after being retained Attorney Lewin contacted the store and he contacted the police prosecutor. Attorney Lewin confirmed that the matter was going to be set down for a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. Attorney Lewin sent the Police Prosecutor a lengthy email setting forth TQ’s family and educational and employment background and the fact that she had never been in trouble before. It was critical to TQ to avoid a criminal record – especially for felony larceny; NO ONE wants to hire a thief and having a Larceny charge on your criminal record brands you as a thief. Attorney Lewin advocated hard with the Police Prosecutor to agree to a disposition of the case that did NOT involve a criminal complaint being issued against TQ.

On March 28, 2017 TQ and Attorney Lewin appeared in Woburn District Court for a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. Attorney Lewin made a strong pitch to the Clerk-Magistrate not to issue a criminal complaint against TQ. Attorney Lewin was successful in getting the police to agree to ask the Clerk-Magistrate not to issue a criminal complaint. At the end of the Hearing the Clerk-Magistrate continued the hearing for four months and ordered that if TQ remained out of trouble then in four months she did not have to return to court and the application for criminal complaint would be denied and dismissed. As a result of this disposition Attorney Lewin explained to TQ the following;

On February 10, 2017, BH, a sixteen year old student at a prestigious private school, decided to have a party. BH invited a number of school age friends – and of course they brought along a few other friends one of whom brought alcohol to the party. They all drank for several hours. One of the young girls at the party apparently consumed some drugs. BH became very drunk and ultimately went out the back door of his house and collapsed in the snow. The girl left the party and went to a local store and collapsed in the store. She had to be brought to a local hospital. The police were summonsed to the house by neighbors. The rest of the party-goers scattered. The police found BH collapsed in the snow and brought him to the hospital. After investigation the police determined that the girl who collapsed in the store had been at the party and had consumed alcohol and drugs at the party. BH had hosted the party. Subsequently BH received a Notice of Complaint Application from the Essex County Juvenile Court. The police had applied for a juvenile complaint for minor in possession of alcohol against BH. BH was fortunate that the police did not charge him with furnishing alcohol to a minor (the girl). BH’s parents came to Massachusetts (they live out of state). BH and his parents met with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover.

Attorney Lewin took a detailed statement of the facts of the case from BH. It became clear the the girl had brought the drugs to the party herself and had consumed the drugs without any help or encouragement from BH. Attorney Lewin met with the police prosecutor from the town involved and advocated for the charge against BH to be “diverted” out of the juvenile justice system. The Essex County District Attorney’s Office – to their credit – has created the Essex County Juvenile Diversion Program. The program is designed to prevent first time offenders from getting a criminal/juvenile record by diverting the case out of the criminal/juvenile justice system.

On February 28, 2017 BH, BH’s parents, and Attorney Lewin appeared in the Essex County Juvenile Court, Lawrence Division, for a hearing on whether or not a juvenile delinquency complaint would be issued against BH. BH is an honor student with a brilliant future and the last thing he needed was a criminal/juvenile record. Attorney Lewin had thoroughly prepared an argument to advocate for the diversion of the case. In addition, before the hearing date Attorney Lewin had met face to face with the director of the juvenile diversion program to discuss the case with her and to seek her approval of BH’s referral to the program. At the hearing before the Clerk-Magistrate of the Juvenile Court Attorney Lewin advocated firmly for diversion of the case. The police were on board and the people from the diversion program were on board. The Clerk-Magistrate adopted Attorney Lewin’s proposal and BH’s case was referred to the juvenile diversion program.

ED, a 61 year old financier, lives on the first floor of a two family house in North Andover. His brother and father live on the second floor. ED and his brother have been on bad terms with one another for years. On February 19, 2017 ED went upstairs to the second floor apartment to check on his father. ED and his brother got into an argument. The brother called the North Andover Police and told the police that ED had pushed the brother to the floor. The police came to the house and spoke first to the brother. The brother repeated that he had been pushed to the floor by ED. The police then went and spoke to ED. ED told the police that there had been an argument and that the two brothers had pushed one another. The North Andover Police filed applications for criminal complaints for assault against both brothers. The applications were set down for a hearing on March 16, 2017.

ED consulted and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. ED had no criminal record and worked in banking and was at risk of losing certain banking and finance licenses. Attorney Lewin learned that ED and his brother do not talk to one another. Attorney Lewin reached out to the brother and spoke with the brother. Attorney Lewin impressed upon the brother that criminal court is a place where no one wants to be if it can be avoided. The brother agreed with Attorney Lewin’s assessment of the situation.

On March 16, 2017 ED and Attorney Lewin and ED’s brother appeared in Lawrence District Court for the Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. Attorney Lewin indicated to the Clerk-Magistrate that neither brother wished to go ahead. The Clerk-Magistrate dismissed both applications for criminal complaint that had been filed by the North Andover Police.

WX, a 32 year old professional nanny, was hired by a well to do family in Essex County to work as a nanny for their four children. WX worked for the family for 18 months and a strong relationship developed between WX and the entire family. WX was terrific with the children, one of whom was physically disabled. WX and the Mother of the children developed a frienship. The mother bought very high end children’s clothing and accumulated a great deal of new expesnive children’s clothes. WX is a single parent of two of her own children and financially was having difficulties. WX began to steal some of the clothing from the family and over a period of about two months stole in excess of $1,700.00 of the clothing. WX began to sell the clothes online. The mother discovered the online sales of the clothes that she had bought. WX had taken photos (to display the clothes online). Unfortunately for WX she had taken the photos of the clothes in the home where she worked and the mother immediately recognized her home in the pictures.  The mother reported this to the police. The police called in WX who confessed. WX received a Notice of Complaint Hearing from Lawrence District Court for Larceny Over $250. WX spoke with several lawyers and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover.

Attorney Lewin explained to WX that if there is anything that helps make these cases go away it is being able to pay the restitution ($1,700.00 in this case) without delay. Attorney Lewin immediately reached out to the police prosecutor and to the investigating detective and advocated for a disposition of the case at the Clerk-Magistrate Hearing that would not involve the issuance of a criminal complaint. WX was very lucky: (1) Larceny Over $250 is a felony and is an arrestable offense and she could have been arrested the day she walked into the police station. The police did not arrest her; (2) Larceny Over $250 – being a felony – is a crime for which there is no right to a hearing before a Clerk-Magistrate to decide if a criminal complaint will be issued. Normally when a person is accused of Larceny Over $250 the police either arrest or have the Court issue a summons. In WX’s case the police did not arrest nor did they request a summons. (A summons means that a criminal complaint issues without a hearing and a criminal record is created when the person appears in Court for an arraignment on the summons.) The police requested that a hearing take place to decide whether or not a criminal complaint would be issued against WX. Attorney Lewin recognized that this was unusual and felt that perhaps the police and/or the victim family would be willing to resolve the case without a criminal complaint being issued against WX. Attorney Lewin advocated hard with the police to agree to settle the case at the hearing without a criminal complaint actually issuing against WX.

On February 16, 2017 Attorney Robert Lewin and WX appeared at Lawrence District Court for the hearing. Also present were the Husband and Wife from whom WX had stolen the clothes and the Police Prosecutor. The hearing proceeded. The purpose of a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing is simply for the Clerk-Magistrate to determine if there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint so that the case can proceed in regular criminal court. In an appropriate case – even when there is probable cause – the Clerk-Magistrates have the discretion to not issue a criminal complaint. Attorney Lewin explained to the Clerk-Magistrate and to the Husband and Wife from whom the clothes had been stolen that WX was prepared to pay the $1,700 in restitution immediately. The police (and to everyone’s surprise) the Husband and Wife were agreeable to a criminal complaint not being issued against WX. The issuance of a criminal complaint would have ruined her career as a nanny. No one wants to hire a thief; and having a charge of Larceny Over $250 on your record brands you as a thief. The Clerk-Magistrate hearing the case was at first extremely reluctant to not issue a complaint. He spoke of the breach of trust and the amount of money involved and the taking of pictures of the clothing in the victim’s home. The Clerk-Magistrate gave WX a long lecture, but in the end he went along with Attorney Lewin’s request to not issue the criminal complaint. The Clerk-Magistrate continued the hearing for six months. He ordered WX to pay the $1,700.00 immediately – which she did. He ordered her to perform 20 hours of community service and to not violate the criminal law.

On May 24,2015, OM, a Dentist practicing in Boston, was cited on the Massachusetts Turnpike for several civil motor vehicle infractions. She was found responsible and neglected to pay the civil assessments. On June 29, 2015 her license was suspended for failing to pay the assessments. On April 1, 2016 she was traveling again on the Mass. Pike; a trooper was electronically scanning plates (a lawful practice) and her plate came up as owner suspended. The trooper pulled OM over and cited her for driving after suspension of license. He could have arrested her but he did not. She was very concerned about getting a criminal record as she is  on the staff of two major teaching hospitals in Boston. OM contacted Attorney Robert Lewin. Attorney Lewin advised her to immediately request a hearing and to immediately get her license reinstated. OM paid the outstanding money owing on the ticket from 2015 and she went to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and paid a reinstatement fee and got her license reinstated. Attorney Lewin obtained OM’s driver record from the RMV to show that she was fully reinstated. On May 9, 2016 OM and Attorney Lewin appeared in Newton District Court for the Clerk-Magistrate’s Hearing on the application for criminal complaint that had been filed by the police against OM. Attorney Lewin presented the evidence from the RMV to show that OM had indeed paid the assessments owing on the old ticket and that the RMV had reinstated OM’s license. Attorney Lewin asked the Clerk-Magistrate not to issue the criminal complaint against OM and pointed out that having a criminal record would be very unhelpful to OM – especially in the medical profession. The Assistant Clerk-Magistrate agreed and denied the police application for the criminal complaint.

As a result of this OM has NO criminal record. Because NO criminal complaint was issued against her she was not charged, she was not arrested, and, most importantly, NO entry was made in the Criminal Offender Record Information System (CORI) against OM. It is as if it did not happen.

BH, a 52 year old male from South Carolina, had been calling a student help line at a Major University in the Boston area for over three years. The calls were persistent and had strong sexual overtones. The calls would come in the hours just after midnight and would involve masturbation and other sexual topics. The university had traced the calls back to BH and had warned him to stop. For a while BH contained himself but then the calls started up again. The University filed an application for a criminal complaint against BH. The Application sought a criminal complaint for annoying phone calls. The calls were numerous and the penalty for each call was up to three months in jail. The University had documented close to one hundred calls. BH was looking at the real possibility of a jail sentence. Immediately upon receiving the notice from the Court BH contacted and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover.

Attorney Lewin implemented a plan of action. Attorney Lewin told BH he had to immediately enroll in counseling with a licensed psychotherapist with experience in sex offenses. Attorney Lewin told BH it would be imperative for the psychotherapist to furnish a report that BH was in treatment to deal with this specific problem. BH did what Attorney Lewin asked. In the meantime Attorney Lewin contacted the University Detective who had completed the investigation. Attorney Lewin advocated for a result that would avoid an actual criminal complaint from being issued against BH. Attorney Lewin had several conversations with the Detective in the weeks leading up to the Court Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. Attorney Lewin received a written report from the psychotherapist. The report certified that BH was in treatment for the specific problems underlying the annoying phone calls.

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On September 16, 2015 DP, an 18 year old college Freshman from Andover, allowed a 16 year old friend to drive his car. DP was in the car at the time. DP thought that the friend had a learner’s permit and DP thought that because he was 18 and licensed that he could allow the friend to drive the car. DP was wrong on both counts. His friend did not have a learner’s permit and the age is 21, not 18. The friend cut another car off and unbeknownst to either DP or the friend a police car was directly behind them. The blues went on and the friend pulled over. The police cited the friend from Negligent Operation and Operating without a License. The police cited DP for allowing an improper person to operate. There is a criminal statute in Massachusetts that makes it a crime for the owner or person in control of a motor vehicle to allow an “improper person” to operate their vehicle. The term “improper person” includes someone who has no permit or license. DP had no criminal record and is a college freshman and wants to keep his record clean. DP and his parents hired Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover to handle the case.

Attorney Lewin knows the Andover Police Prosecutor well. Attorney Lewin spoke immediately with the police prosecutor and explained the situation to the police prosecutor. The police prosecutor agreed with Attorney Lewin’s request to not have a criminal complaint be issued against DP. On October 1, 2015 Attorney Lewin and DP and his parents appeared at Lawrence District Court for a hearing before a Clerk-Magistrate. At the hearing Attorney Lewin explained that DP thought his friend had a learner’s permit and he thought that being 18 he could allow his friend to drive.

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On August 24, 2015 JO, a 52 year old woman from Lawrence was driving her car and headed the wrong way down a one way street. There was an officer there who immediately pulled her over. Unfortunately for JO her license was suspended and had been suspended since 1993 when she was involved in a car accident and failed to pay a property damage judgment that had been entered against her. In Massachusetts if you are involved in an accident where you cause damage to another vehicle (or other property) and you fail to pay for the damage the Registry suspends your license until you pay the property damage judgment or work out a payment schedule. JO had never been able to pay or work out a payment schedule. JO was cited by the officer and was sent a notice to come to court for a Clerk-Magistrate hearing for a one-way street violation and for operating after suspension of license. JO retained Attorney Robert Lewin.
Attorney Lewin told JO the best approach in these cases is to get your license reinstated before the Court hearing. It turned out that the Attorney for the party that had the property damage judgment against JO had died. Attorney Lewin sent JO to the RMV and because there was no record as to whom the money was owing and there was no one to pay the RMV lifted the suspension and reinstated JO’s driving privileges. Because it had been 22 years, JO was issued a learner’s permit and must take the driving test again. Attorney Lewin spoke with the Police Prosecutor and told the Police Prosecutor the background of the case and that JO had been reinstated by the RMV. The police prosecutor agreed that he would not press for a criminal complaint to be issued against JO at the Clerk-Magistrate Hearing.
On September 24, 2015, JO and Attorney Lewin appeared at Lawrence District Court for a Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. Attorney Lewin showed the Clerk-Magistrate and the Police Prosecutor JO’s new learners permit. Attorney Lewin asked that a criminal complaint not be issued against JO. The Clerk-Magistrate then dismissed the application for the criminal complaint and she also entered a not responsible finding on the one-way street violation. JO won her entire case. JO walked out of the courthouse very happy.

On Thursday morning, July 2, 2015, PQ, a 64 year old man from Cambridge was out working in his garden completely naked. His next door neighbor a sixty-eight year old female was not amused. The police were called and responded. This was not the first time that PQ had done this – in fact it was the third time that had been reported. By the time the police had arrived PQ was in his house and had his clothes on. The female neighbor – who suffers from PTSD – told the police she was “shocked and alarmed” by his repetitive behavior. The police could have charged PQ with Open and Gross Lewdness and arrested him on the spot. Open and Gross Lewdness is a felony and upon two convictions sex offender registration is required. PQ got his first break that morning. The police did not arrest him; instead the police told him he would be receiving a notice from the Court. About one month later PQ received a Notice from the Cambridge District Court that the Cambridge Police had filed an application for a criminal complaint to issue against PQ for Indecent Exposure. The Notice informed PQ that a hearing would be held by a Clerk-Magistrate at the Court to determine whether or not PQ would be formally charged.That was PQ’s second break; the police were seeking a criminal complaint for Indecent Exposure, a misdemeanor that does not require sex offender registration as opposed to the felony charge of Open and Gross Lewdness. (Open and Gross Lewdness is an enhanced form of indecent exposure; it is Indecent Exposure that causes “shock and alarm”.) PQ retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. Attorney Lewin told PQ he had to enroll immediately with a therapist/counselor/psychologist with expertise in exhibitionism. PQ followed Attorney Lewin’s suggestion and immediately began a program of psychological counseling. Attorney Lewin contacted the Cambridge Police Prosecutor who in turn put Attorney Lewin in contact with the Officer who would be prosecuting the case at the Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. Attorney Lewin spoke at length with the prosecuting police officer and explained that PQ was now in psychological counseling. Attorney Lewin suggested to the prosecutor that the case be resolved at the level of the Clerk-Magistrate Hearing; specifically, Attorney Lewin advocated that a criminal complaint not be issued.
On September 15, 2015 PQ and Attorney Lewin appeared in Cambridge District Court for the Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. PQ’s neighbor was there; the property manager for the complex where PQ and his neighbor live was present; and the prosecutor from Cambridge PD was present. The neighbor told her story to the Clerk-Magistrate; the property manager testified as to the prior complaints from other neighbors in the complex and as to how PQ had been spoken to by the property manager on prior occasions. Attorney Lewin informed the Clerk-Magistrate as to PQ’s good background and as to how he had immediately enrolled in counseling with a psychologist with expertise in dealing with sex offenders. Attorney Lewin presented a report from the psychologist. Attorney Lewin advocated for the Clerk-Magistrate not to issue the criminal complaint but rather to hold the application for one year and if PQ were in no further trouble then the application could be dismissed. The neighbor objected and wanted either a complaint to issue or the matter to be left open for two years. Ultimately the Clerk-Magistrate adopted Attorney Lewin’s proposal and continued the hearing for one year. The Clerk-Magistrate gave PQ a stern warning that if he exposes himself again that he will be arrested and charged with both this case and the new case.
This was a significant win for PQ. He was not charged with any criminal offense; no entry will be made on his criminal record; when the one year goes by – assuming he has been able to keep his clothes on – this application for a criminal complaint will be denied and dismissed and the papers are destroyed. PQ left the courthouse quite relieved.