When someone is accused of committing a crime, the court either issues a warrant for his arrest or a summons demanding his appearance in court, depending on the state's procedure or seriousness of the alleged crime. The summons typically includes the date and time that the accused must appear, the crime for which he is being charged and the case number assigned to the criminal case.
A Number Identifies a Specific Case
When a criminal case is initiated -- typically when law enforcement obtains a warrant or summons from a judge -- the court clerk assigns an identification number to the case, known as the case number. The case number enables all records and papers generated for the case, such as the warrant or summons and final judgment, to become automatically linked. As a result, people interested in obtaining a summary of the case or specific case information can provide the case number to the court clerk or enter the number in the court's online database to access the information.