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What is a Criminal Summons

Criminal Summons

Service of a Criminal Summons in North Carolina means you have been accused of breaking the law. You face criminal charges. That’s serious stuff.

You also are required to appear in Court on a specified date, time, and courthouse location to answer the allegations. Failure to do so can ultimately result in an OFA (which stands for Order for Arrest) and possibly subject you to Criminal Contempt of Court.

“It’s a really good idea to have a criminal lawyer standing by your side in court, assisting you through the legal process. That’s true whether you are accused of misdemeanor or felony charges in NC.”

– OBX Criminal Defense Lawyer, Danny Glover

Sometimes people don’t understand what’s happening. They figure, “Well, I wasn’t arrested, how serious could it be?” We believe you should always protect your reputation and record. All criminal charges are serious.

Prosecutors and judges don’t draw a distinction based on how you were formally charged. The same sentencing laws apply whether you were arrested by way of Warrant or directed to appear in court by a Criminal Summons.

What is a Warrant for Arrest?

Chances are you already understand, at least in part, what’s involved with an Arrest Warrant. You’re going to get locked up and taken to one of the Outer Banks jails.

At some point you’ll have terms and conditions of bond set, which may include posting bond, (secured bond, unsecured bond, written promise to appear, custody release, etc.) EM Electronic Monitoring, and/or other terms of release imposed by the Judge.

For certain domestic violence assault charges in North Carolina, that may mandate review by a District Court Judge, rather than a Magistrate. And if that happens, you could be sitting in jail for an extended period of time, waiting to appear in Court.

Domestic Violence 48 Hour Rule

Under the NC Criminal Laws, as well as the 4th Amendment, warrants require a formal finding of Probable Cause. Generally speaking, the form of the Arrest Warrant sets forth a brief summary of the allegations, what law or laws are alleged to have been violated, and names the accused.

Warrants further direct law enforcement to take the Defendant (the person accused of breaking the law) into custody. They are technically different than a Uniform Citation issued by an officer or even an Indictment.

What is a Criminal Summons in NC? Criminal Summons

A criminal summons is very similar in form to a Warrant for Arrest. The main difference is that you’re not arrested and taken to jail.

You are directed to come to court, without getting arrested first. That’s what it means to be summonsed. And like an Arrest Warrant, there is a brief summary of the criminal allegations and formally naming / accusing the Defendant.

It’s important not to confuse a civil summons with a criminal summons. They share certain similarities, but also have important differences.

A civil summons is normally related to some form of civil litigation. They’re used when filing lawsuits for things like car wrecks, personal injury claims, and damages.

Failure to respond to a Civil Summons may have legal consequences, but normally that relates to disputes over money and civil causes of action.

A Criminal Summons is very different. It is one way by which Criminal Charges in NC are formally brought. A criminal summons may also be issued for a Criminal Infraction.

If you’ve been served with a criminal summons, you stand accused of a criminal charge. You don’t really have the option of not responding. It’s an alternative to getting arrested, but the charges remain the same.

When is My Court Date?

The consequences for a conviction are just as serious and possibly long-lasting. Because of that, it makes sense to seek legal representation by a “criminal lawyer” immediately.

Put simply, take your charges seriously. The court system does.

Timing is often key. In North Carolina, a court date must be set within a month of the original issuance of a criminal summons or reissuance of a summons.

That means you’ll likely want to sit down and talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, in that court may be fast approaching.

OBX Criminal Defense – Danny Glover

You’ve taken an important first step in researching warrants and a summons. We encourage you to call Danny Glover now to schedule an office visit.

The consultation is always free. It’s also confidential. What you tell us is protected under attorney-client privilege.

That’s true both for Warrants for Arrest, an Order for Arrest, and Criminal Summons.

You may reach Danny by email at:

You may also call Danny Glover at: (252) 299-5300

Client Reviews
"I highly recommend working with Glover Law Firm. I live outside of the state and had a traffic citation in NC that would have required me to return to the state for court. Glover Law Firm was able to represent me for my court date such that I did not need to appear, and they facilitated a very positive outcome for me. I felt that the fee I paid Glover for their services was completely fair and reasonable for the time and money I saved." Bondwc WC.
"Danny Glover is the most meticulous and detailed lawyer I know. As a DWI Services provider in NC, I've had nothing but the best feedback from my clients about his legal services. If you want to feel like you matter but also get professional legal services, Danny is your go to." Anna Coker
"I hired Danny Glover to represent my daughter in a traffic violation. He did an amazing job at handling her situation quickly. I can't say enough about the way he generally care for his clients. If I ever need legal help or advice again, Danny Glover is who I would call." Leigh H.
"I have used Danny Glover on numerous SERIOUS felony charges and also traffic misdemeanor charges for the last 15 years. He has beat or gotten every single charge I've had reduced or dismissed the man is a beast! Top Notch!" Shane Howard
"Danny Glover is by far the best lawyer that I have had represent me. I can only give 5 stars but he deserves more than that. His staff was extremely personable and professional. If you have a traffic citation in an area covered by Mr. Glover, you would be a fool not to hire him and his staff to represent you." Sean M.