If you’ve been accused of committing a crime in North Carolina, the way the charge (the legal process) is instituted and a court date is set can make a big difference.
Generally speaking, a criminal summons is a document issued that orders a person to appear in court to answer charges of committing a crime.
A criminal summons may be issued for felony or misdemeanor charges or a criminal infraction; they tend to be used less frequently for felony charges.
What is a Warrant for Arrest?
A warrant for arrest is a court order that authorizes law enforcement to take someone into custody due to criminal allegations. After an arrest, a court appearance will be set under the NC criminal laws.
Warrants may be issued when someone is suspected of committing a crime. A warrant is not considered a criminal conviction. That’s also true for a criminal summons.
A warrant may be issued if someone has been indicted by a grand jury or when there is probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime.
A warrant will direct a law enforcement officer to take the accused into custody and will provide a basic statement of the allegations.
What is an Order for Arrest in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, both an Order for Arrest and a Criminal Summons can be issued by a judge or magistrate.
An Order for Arrest is typically issued when someone has been charged with a crime and they fail to appear in court. A criminal defense lawyer may refer to that as an OFA – Order for Arrest.
If you have been charged with a crime and you fail to appear in court, a judge may issue an Order for Arrest and an FTA – Failure to Appear. We think it’s a good idea to immediately retain a criminal lawyer for legal representation if you stand accused of a crime.
What is a Criminal Summons in North Carolina?
A criminal summons is a document that orders someone to appear in court. It provides formal notice of a criminal offense in the legal system. If you miss your court appearance after a Criminal Summons is issued, an Order for Arrest (OFA) may be issued.
Is a Criminal Summons the same as a Warrant for Arrest?
No. The primary difference between a Warrant for Arrest and a Criminal Summons in North Carolina is that a Summons does NOT result in an arrest or being taken into custody.
- Warrant for Arrest and Order for Arrest (OFA) = Results in an Arrest
- Criminal Summons = No Arrest
How are a Criminal Summons and an Arrest Warrant similar?
Both a Criminal Summons and Arrest Warrant may serve the role of bringing formal criminal charges.
They advise the accused of the charge or charges. They also often set forth some of the basics behind the alleged offense.
Are a Civil Summons and a Criminal Summons the same thing?
No. A civil summons is quite different from a criminal summons in North Carolina.
A civil summons is used to bring a defendant into civil court proceedings, whereas a criminal summons is used to bring someone into criminal court proceedings.
Criminal charges are typically more serious than civil charges.
As a result, the penalties for violating a criminal summons may be more serious than the penalties for violating a civil summons.