In the state of Massachusetts, if you are caught speeding, you can be found guilty of either a civil violation or a criminal violation. Some of the speeding violations that qualify as criminal include:
Speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the speed limit
- Reckless driving
- Operating to endanger
If you were cited for one of these criminal speeding violations, you will have an application for criminal complaint filed against you by the law enforcement officer who stopped you. The criminal complaint is the beginning of the standard judicial procedure in Massachusetts for alleged crimes.
The police officer will file out an incident report at the scene where you were pulled over. That incident report will be used in the application for criminal complaint against you.
Next, a date will be set for the hearing for the speeding violation. This hearing will typically be before the judge in the district in which you were stopped. It is at this hearing that it will be determined if you are to be found guilty of the criminal complaint for speeding. A summons will be sent to both you and to the police officer who pulled you over. Both of you must attend the hearing.
What To Do If You Receive a Criminal Complaint in the Mail
If you get a criminal complaint in the mail, the last thing to do is to ignore it. When the state of Massachusetts decides to charge you with a crime, it can go two ways:
- If you were arrested by the police, you will be taken to court and arraigned as quickly as possible. At the courthouse, you receive the criminal complaint. This starts the formal criminal justice process.
- You receive a criminal complaint and summons in the mail. In this case, you were not arrested. You must show up in court on the stated date and start the criminal process. Never fail to show up in court, or things just get worse.
The criminal complaint in the mail will include a summons that states the time and date you must appear, and at which courthouse. If you ignore the order, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. You will then have a default on your record, which shows that you have ignored a court order.
A default has serious consequences. It will affect the amount of your bail and the amount for any future case. It is very important to not have a default on your record.
Note that some judges will issue a default just if you show up late for your hearing! Or they will issue the default if you go to the wrong courthouse.
Once the warrant is issued, you can be arrested anywhere and anytime. Thus, if you are stopped for speeding, the officer will check your license and the warrant will appear. The officer can then arrest you and take you to the police station.
For all of the above reasons, you should respond to the summons and show up in court.
If you receive a criminal complaint in the mail, you should contact a criminal defense attorney right away. Your attorney will be able to explain the documents to you. He also will go to court with you, assist you in entering a plea, and start the process of defending you.
In many cases, the attorney can talk to the prosecutor at the arraignment and talk about reducing or even dismissing charges. Your attorney also can look into the alleged conduct that led to the criminal complaint. With this information, your defense attorney can ready discovery and any potential evidentiary motions that will resolve the case.
Criminal Complaints Can Be a Surprise
A notice for a criminal complaint in the mail can be a surprise for some people. The responsible party may not have been charged for the crime. Criminal defense attorneys in the state have reported that sometimes their client is charged with a crime for leaving the scene of an accident. In some cases, the accused was not driving the car, or may not even have been in the car at all.
There also are cases where a car is hit by another car. The car that caused the accident leaves the scene. But witnesses get the license plate information. The police will find out who the owner is and he will get a notice in the mail. However, it could be that the owner of the car was not driving at all.
If you get a criminal complaint in the mail and it is a complete shock to you, don’t despair. You should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to determine the next steps. It is not out of the question for the complaint to have been delivered to the wrong person; it happens every day across the country.
About the Magistrate’s Hearing
When you get a criminal complaint, you will need to show up in court at the appointed date and time. The standard for issuing the complaint is only probable cause, which is the lowest standard in existence. If a person states that someone did something illegal to him, probable cause is established.
But the clerk magistrate is not required to issue the complaint because probable cause has been established. A resolution can be written that will not result in the case going to criminal court. A very common outcome that a good attorney can obtain is to continue the matter for several weeks or months.
If you remain free of criminal problems, the case could be dismissed. In other cases, the clerk magistrate might allow both parties to resolve the matter without a criminal complaint being issued.
In these dealings, you want a good attorney working for you.
An Expert Fighting Speeding Tickets – Attorney Geoffrey Nathan
You never want to go to a hearing for a criminal complaint against you for speeding without expert counsel Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan and his practice group are some of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ top legal experts in beating speeding charges and other traffic offenses. If you have a speeding ticket, had your driver’s license suspended, or have any other serious traffic charge, including operating to endanger, contact Attorney Nathan’s team now. They can win your case.
Nathan’s practice group includes former judges, former law enforcement officials, MA legislators, and retired assistant district attorneys. They have the decades of experience and track record that you need to beat your traffic charge.