How to Find Out If You Have a Summons

By Teo Spengler - Updated May 31, 2017
Judges Gavel

A summons is simply an official order for you to appear in court. To find out if you have a summons, contact the court.

How to Find Out if You Have a Court Summons

The procedure to follow to determine whether you have a court summons depends on the type of summons. One type of summons informs you about a lawsuit. When someone sues you, you're notified of the lawsuit when you receive a copy of the summons and complaint. The complaint is the document that starts the lawsuit. The summons lets you know how long you have to file an answer or the date to appear in court.

These documents are usually personally served on you. That means you are handed the documents by a third person. If that happens, you will actually be in possession of the court summons. The person handing the papers to you must sign a document, known as a proof of service, letting the court know when and where she handed you the document. If you think someone may have filed a lawsuit against you, but you have not been served with a summons, go to the court clerk's office to find out. Some courts provide online searches of pending cases.

How to Find Out if You Have Been Summoned to Jury Duty

In some states, when you are called to jury duty, you receive a court summons in the mail. If you do not show up for jury duty, a bench warrant can be issued for you. If you suspect that this has happened, call the court and ask to speak with the official in charge of jury duty. You will usually be able to get the bench warrant lifted by arranging to appear on a future date.

How to Find Out if You Have Been Summoned to Court for a Ticket

If you get a minor traffic ticket, you may be given the choice of pleading guilty and paying a fine, and avoiding a court appearance. If you do not have that choice, such as in the case of a more serious traffic violation, or you forget to pay the fine, you must appear in court to face the charges. The ticket is a type of summons. If you do not show up, the court will likely issue a bench or arrest warrant for you. This means that if you are stopped by the police for any reason, they can, and probably will, arrest you.

You can find out if you were summoned to court for a traffic ticket by running your driver record at the motor vehicle department. It will show your traffic tickets and any bench warrants. You can get the warrants lifted by scheduling a court appearance in the matter.

About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.

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