What a Case Number Means on a Criminal Summons

By Mary Jane Freeman
A female lawyer and male client sitting next to each other in a courtroom

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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.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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