In Illinois a summons is the official way a court notifies you that a case has been started against you.
Summons In Civil Court
In civil court there are specific rules that must be followed to ensure that a summons and accompanying documents are served properly.
See 735 ILCS 5/2-201(a):
Summons In Criminal Court
In criminal court a summons is used very much like it is used in civil court. When a person is charged with a crime a court issues a warrant for the person’s arrest.
However, for traffic offenses and some low level felonies a court may choose to not issue a warrant and instead issue a summons for the person to appear in court.
The consequences of not responding to a summons depends on the charge against you. In some traffic and municipal ordinance violation cases a judgment may be issued against you and you can get fined.
In a more serious criminal charge you can expect a warrant for your arrest to be issued.
Notice To Appear In Criminal Court
In Illinois a law enforcement officer also has the option of issuing you a notice to appear in court. This is more common and typical for a traffic infraction.
The notice to appear has the same legal effect as a summons. It notifies a person that a charge or complaint has been started against you.
The Difference Between A Summons And A Notice To Appear
Both have the same legal effect.
Subpoena vs Summons
What is the difference between a summons and a subpoena?
In Illinois there are the similarities and key differences between a summons and a subpoena.
To learn more about what a subpoena in Illinois means go here.