Do I Have to Go to Court If I Get a Summons?
In most cases, yes, you must appear in court if you get a criminal summons. However, there are some exceptions. For example, you might not have to go to court for a criminal summons if you have an attorney who appears on your behalf or if the matter can be handled via telephone.
It is recommended that you call a defense attorney as soon as you get a summons to appear in court. You might face legal consequences if you fail to appear in court or miss the deadline to respond.
What Is a Summons?
A summons – also called a “court order” – is a document issued by the court, usually at the beginning of a civil lawsuit or a criminal proceeding. You do not have to be a plaintiff or a defendant to receive a summons.
A summons contains the following:
- The name of the person receiving the summons (your name)
- The name and type of court that issued the summons
- The case number associated with your summons
- The name of the defendant in the case (this may or may not be you)
- When and where you must appear
- What the case is about
People who are party to a case may receive a summons simply to provide information in a case. For example, you might be called by the prosecution, the defense, or the court itself to give information in a personal appearance.
Can I Avoid Court If I Get a Summons to Appear?
If you receive a criminal summons, you might have to go to court. However, it is possible to avoid court by hiring a criminal defense lawyer.
There are several benefits to hiring an attorney for a summons:
- Your lawyer may be able to call the court and find out what type of information they need from you. If you are not the defendant, you might be allowed to make a recorded statement or a written statement.
- Your attorney can appear on your behalf so that you may skip going to court.
- If you must appear personally, your attorney can accompany you to protect your rights.
Is a Subpoena Different from a Summons?
Although the court issues both documents, a subpoena is different from a summons:
- A subpoena is a demand for you to provide evidence in a court case, either in the form of turning over physical evidence, giving testimony, or both. They are typically issued during the investigation or discovery process. Both defendants and witnesses can be subpoenaed.
- A summons is typically issued at the beginning of a case. For example, in civil cases, it is the start of a lawsuit. For criminal matters, the state uses a summons to initiate a criminal case against an individual.
Received a Criminal Summons? Call Us Today
It can be upsetting to receive a criminal summons, particularly if you do not expect it. However, if you are also the defendant, there may be charges against you. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer to help you or appear on your behalf in court is a smart idea. A strong legal advocate could improve your situation if you are facing criminal charges.