On December 30, 2018, MQ, a 51 year old woman from Billerica, drove to the Burlington Mall. She entered the parking lot and searched for a space. She spotted a space in an aisle and headed toward the space. As she approached the space a woman (whom we shall call W) driving an SUV coming from the opposite direction pulled into the space directly passing by the front of MQ’s car. According to a Burlington Police Department Report, W told police that MQ stopped her vehicle and began screaming at W “F–k you, I was waiting for that space.” According to the police report W said that MQ continued screaming. As W (and her teenage daughter) began to walk toward the mall entrance W wrote down the plate number of MQ’s vehicle. W also noticed MQ walking around W’s car. W entered the mall and did her shopping. When she came back out and went to her car there was a long scratch that went around the car (the whole passenger side, the front hood, and the whole driver side). W immediately called the police. The Burlington Police responded. From the license plate they learned that the owner of the car was MQ and they called MQ. According to the police report MQ denied scratching the car, but then began “yelling into the phone “I was walking around the car because I was thinking about keying it but I never did.”
The police filed an application for criminal complaint against MQ for malicious damage to a motor vehicle. A conviction of this offense carries a one year loss of your driver license.
MQ sought out an attorney. She met with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. Attorney Lewin explained the law in detail to MQ and cautioned her that a conviction would carry a one-year loss of her driver’s license. MQ lived in Billerica and worked in Cambridge and absolutely needed a license to get back and forth to work.
Attorney Lewin contacted the insurance company for W to see if W had been paid for the damage to her car. Attorney Lewin spoke with the police prosecutor from the Burlington Police Department to see if the case could be settled in the Clerk-Magistrate’s Office without a criminal complaint being issued against MQ.
A Clerk-Magistrate Hearing is an important first step in a criminal case. The Clerk-Magistrate of the Court (or an Assistant Clerk-Magistrate) conducts a hearing for the purpose of determining whether a criminal complaint will be issued against the accused. Even if there is probable cause to issue the criminal complaint, the Clerk-Magistrate has the discretion to not issue the complaint. Getting the agreement of the police to not issue the complaint is critical in this decision. If the Clerk-Magistrate decides not to issue the complaint, then the accused person is NOT charged, they do not have to return to court to appear before a judge, and most importantly they have no criminal record as a result of the particular incident.
On February 26, 2019, MQ and Attorney Lewin appeared at Woburn District Court for the Clerk-Magistrate hearing. Attorney Lewin had had MQ enroll in counseling for control of her anger. Attorney Lewin had told the police that MQ would pay for the damage to W’s vehicle. At the hearing the police prosecutor laid out the facts for the Clerk-Magistrate. Attorney Lewin explained that MQ would pay for any unreimbursed loss that W had suffered as a result of this. Attorney Lewin also explained that MQ had sought out counseling. Attorney Lewin asked the Clerk-Magistrate to NOT issue a criminal complaint against MQ. The Clerk-Magistrate then continued the hearing to April 2, 2019 to verify that W had been reimbursed for her financial loss. The police (and Attorney Lewin) were able to determine that of the $1,800 to paint W’s SUV, $1,600 had been paid by insurance, leaving a balance of $200.00. MQ paid that $200.00. On April 2, 2019 Attorney Lewin reported to the Clerk-Magistrate that the $200.00 had been paid and the Clerk-Magistrate then ordered that the Application for a Criminal Complaint against MQ was DENIED.
As a result of this Attorney Lewin explained to MQ the following:
- NO criminal complaint had been issued against MQ.
- She had NOT been charged with a crime.
- She would NOT lose her license.
- She would NOT have to appear in court before a Judge.
- NO entry would be made in the criminal offender record information system.
- She had NO criminal record as a result of this case.
MQ was very happy with Attorney Lewin and with the result in her case.