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Can I sue the police for charging me with a felony without questioning me first?

Brockton, MA |

I was falsely accused of domestic violence in Massachusetts. At the time of all this I lived in Las Vegas. The DMV sent a letter sent to my mothers house in Mass stating I had to clear up 2 warrants. I called the court to inquire about this and they told me I was CHARGED with felony assault. I was never questioned, contacted, etc. by police. The court told me to come in for an arraignment. 7 months later, I'm in a trial courtroom and no one seemed to care about the fact that I wasn't in the state at the time and had many alibies to prove this. The case was dismissed however, I had to dismantle what took 3 yrs for me and my wife to build in Las Vegas and uproot 5 children. Is police questioning mandatory before charges are filed? Would this be considered a civil rights violation? Thank you

Attorney Answers 3

  1. The short answer to your specific question is no, the police are not required to interview the defendant prior to applying for a complaint. All that is needed for a complaint to issue is probable cause. Probable cause is a much lower degree of evidence than that needed for conviction. It simply means "reasonably trustworthy information sufficient to warrant a
    prudent person in believing that a crime has been committed and that the accused is the
    perpetrator." In a domestic violence situation that could be simply the statement of the complaining witness.

    Answers to posted questions are for general interest only and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by virtue of any answer posted by the attorney.

  2. No. They don't have to question you first.

  3. Police questioning is not mandatory before a felony complaint can issue. All that is required is that the magistrate believe the police have porbable cause that a crime was committed and you committed the offense to justify a warrant being issued for your arrest. In Massachusetts, however, misdemeanors are crimes punishable by up to two and one-half years in jail and are usually tried in the District Court. Misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felonies and would require a magistrate to conduct a hearing prior to the issuance of any criminal charges if the alleged criminal act was not committed in the presence of the police officer. You would be given notice of the application for criminal complaint process which should have happened in your case since Assault is a misdemeanor, not a felony.

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