When you get served with a summons, it’s never a fun experience. In fact, it’s quite scary for a lot of people simply because they may not be sure what it means or what steps they should take next.
Luckily, a summons can be an easy concept to understand and the steps you must take after you receive one in Colorado are not usually complicated. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Colorado Court Summons?
A summons is simply a legal document that officially notifies you that you are required to make an appearance in court. It also lets you know that you are either being sued in civil court or that you need to defend yourself in criminal court.
A summons is typically served by what is called a process server. In Colorado, this is typically the sheriff of the county where the court is located. A deputy may also serve a summons.
What Does a Summons Document Contain?
It’s important to remember that a summons is an official court document. It will include several important pieces of information such as:
- The name of the court issuing the summons and that court’s jurisdiction
- The party’s name that the summons is intended for
- The case number in the court
- The details of the case
- Information about when you must respond to the summons
- How to respond to the summons
You typically have to sign to show that you received a summons to the person serving you the summons.
You Were Served a Summons in Colorado – What Now?
The very first thing you should do after receiving a summons is to read it thoroughly and carefully. It will list the details outlined above, and tell you where you need to go, the date you must show up in court, and the time you need to be there.
Then, you should take the next two steps: hire an attorney and gather the appropriate paperwork.
Hire an Attorney
After you’ve looked over the summons and have an understanding of what it is about, then contact an attorney. If you don’t already have a lawyer in the matter, then you should get one as soon as you receive a summons. Find a lawyer that has experience with cases like yours. In other words, if you receive a summons for a misdemeanor such as theft, retain a lawyer with practical experience defending clients against those charges.
Gather All Documents and Paperwork
Any documents or paperwork you have regarding the matter for which you’ve been summoned must be gathered for your case. This can include police reports, hospital records, correspondence, and other important documents related to your charges. These items will help your lawyer to begin building a defense.
What Happens If You Don’t Go to Court?
If you receive a summons and fail to appear in court, then you can be charged with contempt of court and a warrant can be issued for your arrest.
That may not mean someone will come to your home or work to arrest you, but it does mean if you are pulled over or have your identification run, then law enforcement will see you have a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested.
Sometimes the best option is choosing to turn yourself in if you know there’s a warrant out for your arrest. However, this is only recommended when you secure an experienced Colorado defense lawyer before doing so. Whatever you do, never ignore a summons, no matter how minor the infraction.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.