In many misdemeanor cases in Massachusetts
, if the police desire to charge you for a crime that was allegedly committed outside their presence, they must apply for a complaint at the district or municipal court level. At that point, you are entitled to a hearing in front of a clerk magistrate. The purpose of such a hearing is for the clerk magistrate to examine the particulars surrounding the case and decide if there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint
. It is important to understand that if the complaint is issued against you, that the charges will appear on your criminal record. On the other hand, if the clerk does not issue the complaint, the case is dismissed, and charges will not appear on your record.