What‌ ‌Does‌ ‌a‌ ‌Court‌ ‌Summons‌ ‌Mean?‌‌

court summons

What‌ ‌Does‌ ‌a‌ ‌Court‌ ‌Summons‌ ‌Mean?‌‌

What does a court summons mean? If you receive a court summons, a civil or criminal case has been filed against you and you are required to appear in court. Saienni Law is here to answer any questions you may have. 

What Is a Court Summons?

In a civil or criminal lawsuit, the person who has filed the suit is the plaintiff and the person being sued is the defendant. A court summons is the legal document that notifies the defendant that they have been summoned to court to answer whatever action the plaintiff has filed.  In order to start a case, the plaintiff must first file a complaint. Then, a clerk of the court issues a summons and appoints someone to serve it. 

Who Serves a Court Summons?

In a civil case, the plaintiff must arrange and pay the cost of serving the summons on the defendant usually by one of the following methods:  

  • sheriff
  • sheriff’s deputy
  • constable
  • constable’s deputy
  • or a certified private process server

Once a person has served a summons, they must sign an affidavit confirming they did so. This means that the plaintiff can not serve you the summons themselves nor hire someone else to do it. Only a court-appointed person can serve a summons unless the court has authorized otherwise. If you are not properly served, the court will not have jurisdiction over you and might dismiss your case. However, the plaintiff can have you served with a summons again if this happens. 

In a criminal case the summons is usually just mailed.  If you do not receive it or if the state neglects to mail it your first court appearance could come and go without your knowledge resulting in an arrest warrant for your failure to appear. We at Saienni Law attempt to notify people ahead of time so they are aware there is a criminal case pending and they do not miss any court appearances.  

Is a Summons the Same As a Subpoena?

A summons is similar to a subpoena but they are not the same. A court summons is served at the beginning of a case, while a subpoena is served after it has begun. Both are demands from the court. A summons requires an appearance while a subpoena may require other actions, like providing evidence or a testimony. 

What Happens Next?

Legal action can not begin until the defendant is properly served. If you have been served a court summons, read the document carefully to find out important information including:

  • How long you have and how to respond to the summons.
  • The date, time, and location of your court appearance. 
  • The names of the plaintiff and defendant.
  • The type of court that issued the summons.
  • Details about the case.

You must respond to the summons exactly how and when the document states and then show up for your court appearance. If you do not appear in court, you may automatically lose the case and, in a criminal case, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest for contempt of court. It’s always a good idea to seek legal counsel as soon as you have received a summons no matter what type of case has been filed against you.

Legal Representation in Phoenix

Saienni Law is experienced in criminal defense cases. When you choose Saienni Law, our team will discuss your case with you, investigate it, examine evidence, and negotiate your settlement or proceed to trial when necessary. If you have received a summons in a criminal court case, contact Saienni Law today.

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