Many Mass Traffic Tickets are Actually Criminal Charges!
Keep Your Massachusetts Drivers License From Being Suspended
Just because you were pulled over, and given a traffic citation does not always mean that it is a minor speeding ticket.
Some traffic citations such as negligent operation of a motor vehicle are criminal offenses. Your citation is for you to appear at a clerk magistrate’s hearing.
Some people assume that just because they weren’t arrested on the spot, they aren’t charged with a crime, or it isn’t that serious. But that is not the case. Even a driving on a suspended license charge may result in a criminal citation, and not an immediate arrest if there is someone else who is there to drive the car home.
While it is true that if you are pulled over and charged with drunk driving, you will almost certainly be arrested, but in other cases, you are just cited and sent home with a criminal court appearance to come.
Some common criminal traffic offenses, or motor vehicle charges under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90 Section 24, include:
- Driving to Endanger (Operating So as to Endanger)
- Failure to Stop for a Police Officer
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident after Property Damage
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident after Personal Injury
- Negligent Operation (of a motor Vehicle)
- Reckless Operation of a motor vehicle
- OUI – Operating Under The Influence (of Intoxicating Liquor)
- Operating on a Suspended Driver’s License
- Operating on a Revoked Driver’s License
For these offenses, you could find yourself facing jail time, long license suspension periods, and a criminal record that can follow you for years.
That’s why it makes sense to try to fight these charges in court, right away.
Don’t just plead guilty to a criminal traffic charge in Massachusetts without exploring all your legal defense options. There very well could be a way to beat the charges altogether, or at least get the offense dropped down to a non-criminal, civil infraction, like a speeding ticket.
Related non-criminal charges may be:
- Operating without Insurance
- Junior Operator Offenses
Criminal Traffic Citations – FAQ
I wasn’t arrested, so it can’t be a serious criminal charge, can it?
That is not true. A charge like negligent operation of a motor vehicle, or driving so as to endanger can result in actual jail time of up to 1 year, for a misdemeanor criminal offense. If convicted, jail isn’t likely in most cases, but you are almost certainly looking at a license suspension, and being put on probation, as a convicted criminal.
If you received a Massachusetts Uniform Citation, from an officer, or in the mail, that is checked as Criminal Application, you must sign and return the form to the local District Court. You will then be sent a hearing date in front of A Clerk-Magistrate. More info on how to handle a criminal citation is here.
What is a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing?
A Clerk Magistrate’s hearing, or Clerk’s Hearing, is also known as a Show Cause hearing. It is a format court hearing before a magistrate to determine whether there is sufficient reasonable cause to move forward with a formal criminal charge.
These hearings are not just a formality. The magistrate has the power to end the case against you before the court process really begins. If the state doesn’t provide sufficient evidence that a crime was committed, the case can be dropped.
If charges go forward, you will be arraigned (the formal appearance where charges are entered).
But this hearing is also often your best chance to win your case outright. If the case is voided, that means no charges were ever brought. It is as if never happened!
I win lots of clerk’s hearings and wrote a book on how to beat them. So give me a call, and we can discuss what I can do to help you with your case.
Contact us at (781) 380-7730 for a consultation on any Massachusetts criminal traffic offense. Don’t let the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles take your license without a fight!