A justice of the peace may opt to issue a summons instead of a warrant for arrest.
This can only be done when the criminal charge was initiated by a private complaint filed by a private individual charging the accused with the commission of a less serious offence. The summons will direct the accused to appear in court to answer the charges. Summons may be disregarded by the person to whom it is issued, unlike a warrant for arrest which cannot be disregarded as the police will take actual physical custody of the accused.
In Queensland, when a private individual files a complaint before a justice of the peace, alleging that a less serious offence has been committed by another, the justice of the peace usually issues a summons and includes a copy of the complaint with the summons. The summons is an order from the court to appear before the court on a specified date so that the accused may answer the complaint filed against him. The issuance of a summons does not result in the speedy appearance of the accused before the court unlike when a warrant for arrest is issued.
When the police stop a motorist on a public road in order to check upon the blood alcohol concentration of the motorist and finds that the motorist was operating his vehicle with a prescribed blood alcohol concentration, the police will issue a notice of infringement. The notice of infringement specifies the date, the time and the exact place when and where the alcohol breath test was conducted and the results of the alcohol breath test. There is also included in the infringement, a notice of the cost of the fine, the penalty points and the period of disqualification imposed upon the motorist. In this notice of infringement, there is also a notice to appear. This notice to appear is a form of summons for it sets the time and place at which the motorist should appear before the court to answer for the offence he has committed.
Is a summons more effective than a warrant for arrest? Some people disregard summonses issued by the court thinking that they can simply pay the fine and need not appear in court. In cases where the accused fails or refuses to appear despite the issuance of a summons, the justice of the peace will have to issue a warrant for arrest just the same to ensure that the court takes jurisdiction and custody over the accused.
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Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.