How to Respond to a Summons for a Clerk Magistrate's Hearing
Are you a witness or a potential defendant?The summons itself will reveal your anticipated role at the hearing. If the summons was issued directly from the court, and if it directs you to answer to an application for a complaint against you, you are in danger of being charged with a crime. It would be foolhardy for you to represent yourself at the hearing, because the stakes are extremely high. The clerk magistrate will not determine if you are guilty or innocent; he instead operates with the much lower standard of "probable cause." If you choose to represent yourself and a complaint issues against you, you will have an unwelcome entry on your criminal record -- something that might have been avoided had you hired an experienced and competent attorney
Have your attorney try to negotiate with the other party and/or the policeWhen you receive the summons, you should contact an attorney right away, to give the attorney time to properly investigate your case. Oftentimes, by speaking to the police and/or the "aggrieved party," your attorney will be able to put you in the best position to have the application for complaint dismissed at the hearing. At a minimum, your attorney will properly prepare for the hearing, in order to present your best case in a manner designed to appeal to a clerk magistrate.
Help your attorneyProvide your attorney with character references, names/addresses/phone numbers of potential witnesses, and a resume or curriculum vitae. Dress appropriately for the hearing: if you are male, you should wear a suit and tie; if you are female, you should dress smart and conservatively in business attire, if possible. Do not lose your cool at the hearing! Even if you are hearing testimony or "evidence" that is obviously false, do not show any reaction. Let your attorney determine how to respond. He or she will be able to filter out information that -- although annoying -- is actually quite harmless. Having attended many hearings over the years, your attorney will be able to "read" what is going on at the hearing . . . and put you in the best position to succeed.