I Received a MA Criminal Citation in the Mail – Am I Under Arrest?

If you open the mailbox to find a criminal citation staring back at you, it’s important to act quickly. If the criminal box is checked, you have been charged with a criminal offense. Although you are not technically under arrest, this type of citation is still a criminal accusation. Criminal citations can be sent in the mail or hand delivered by a law enforcement officer.  Criminal citations can be issued for multiple misdemeanor offenses, including leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, operating under the influence (OUI), driving on a suspended license, and even assault.

What is the Next Step?

Step one is to read the back of the citation. You will have four business days to complete the form and mail back to the court specified on the citation. Mail it to the physical address on the front of the citation, NOT the PO Box. You can also deliver it in person.  If the court doesn’t receive your completed form within the four-day window, they may cut you a break. But not always. If you don’t send in the citation at all, you will be automatically charged with a crime. You will receive a notice to appear at an arraignment. If you don’t appear at the arraignment, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.

What Happens After I Return the Completed Citation?

Once the court has received your completed form,  you wait. Within a relatively short period of time, you will receive notification of a court date. This initial hearing is called a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing. The prosecuting officer will present evidence to the magistrate. If the magistrate believes there is sufficient evidence to issue a complaint, the case will move forward. With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, you may avoid charges altogether. If a criminal complaint is not issued, the charge will effectively disappear. In short, you won’t have a criminal record…at least not for this particular incident. Contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

Do I Need a Lawyer at a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing?

Although you don’t technically need to have a lawyer present at the clerk magistrate’s hearing, it is highly recommended to have legal representation. Without an attorney, your chance of success is limited. If the complaint gets issued, the case will move to an arraignment and pretrial. At that time, you will either move forward with a trial or attempt to negotiate a plea deal. All is not lost if you are unsuccessful at the clerk magistrate’s hearing. Even if the complaint is issued, multiple opportunities to get charges reduced or dismissed are still available. If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in MA, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Criminal Defense Lawyers With More Than 50 Years’ Experience

If you are facing any type of criminal charge, from reckless driving to assault, the knowledgeable defense attorneys at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced or dismissed altogether. In many cases, jail time is not the best remedy. Alternative sentencing options often exist. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and reputation. It is our goal to keep you out of jail, and to keep your record clean. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.


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