The Difference Between a Notice of Appearance and a Summons

Although a summons and a notice of appearance seem to serve the same purpose, there is a difference between the two. A court summons is given to a person once they have been charged with an offense, whereas an appearance notice is given to a person before they are even charged.

A summons and notice of appearance will both tell you what day you must go to court, the location of the court and the type of offense you’re being charged with. Usually you’ll find a section saying that you have to go to the local police station on a specified date to have your fingerprints and photograph taken. This date would be some time before your first court appearance and nothing about the offense is discussed during that time. You also won’t need a lawyer, but if you don’t go and get fingerprinted, you can be arrested and charged with the offense of failing to appear. The very first appearance is the date when you can tell the court what you plan on doing with the charge made against you. Note that this isn’t a trial date. Don’t neglect to show up in court because a warrant can be issued for your arrest.