Summons Legal Definition

What is a Summons?” 

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  • Summons
Summons Legal Definition

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Summons legal definition: A summons is a legal document administered by an agent of the law. The function of a summons is to compel someone to appear in court on a certain time and date as part of a criminal or civil proceeding.


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A summons generally includes the following information:

  • The name of the court where you will be required to appear
  • The name of all parties associated with the criminal or civil proceeding
  • A docket number
  • The deadline by which you must respond 
  • A copy of the criminal or civil complaint in some cases

A summons may be issued so that:

  • You can answer a criminal charge
  • You can defend yourself against a civil lawsuit
  • You can testify as a witness

Summons are issued in nearly every type of civil court proceeding, including those involving:

  • Car accident injury cases
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Medical malpractice claims
  • Defective product cases
  • And other personal injury actions




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