Opinions and Legal Insights

What is the difference between probable cause and show cause hearings in Massachusetts?

What is a show cause hearing?

A show cause hearing is held before a Massachusetts district court magistrate to establish whether or not there is probable cause that you committed the crime you are accused of. In other words, the prosecution must demonstrate that the evidence shows reasonable grounds for you to be charged with the crime. It is generally available to you if you are accused of committing a misdemeanor crime that you were not arrested for. You may request one within four days of receiving a motor vehicle citation that details misdemeanor charges. At this hearing you, the accused, may bring witnesses. The clerk magistrate will ultimately determine if there is sufficient evidence to constitute probable cause.  If he or she determines there is, you will be given a date for your arraignment, where charges will be formally brought against you. If you were arrested, charged with a felony, or the magistrate determines that you may be dangerous, you are not entitled to a show cause hearing.

What is a probable cause hearing?