Getting a citation is never a good thing but getting a criminal citation can be especially nerve-wracking. When people receive a criminal citation, they’re often left with many unanswered questions. Let’s dig a little deeper to find out what your criminal citation means and what the possible consequences of not responding are.
What is a Criminal Citation?
A criminal citation is a written citation of charges being held against you. You may receive a criminal citation in person, directly from an officer, or in the mail. Typically, there will be a 4-day response window for the criminal citation from the date it’s received. That 4-day window allows the defendant to request something called a clerk magistrate hearing to settle their case.
How Does a Clerk Magistrate Hearing Differ from a Normal Hearing?
A clerk magistrate hearing is a type of hearing that’s less formal than a traditional court hearing. Multiple cases are over-seen by a judge in a short period of time, rather than a full-blown court hearing. A clerk magistrate hearing can help the defendant avoid jail time and make the fees (if any apply) for the citation more manageable.
What if You Miss the 4-Day Window?
If you don’t respond to a criminal citation within 4 days, you’ll likely receive a court summons for a trial and possible arraignment. The best way to avoid this, of course, is to respond to the citation within the 4-day window. Some cities and states are more lenient than others and if you respond to the criminal citation in person, you may be granted a clerk magistrate hearing even if the 4-day window has passed.
When to Seek Professional Advice
You should seek the advice of an attorney if you’re facing a criminal citation you would like to fight, or if you missed the 4-day window and have received a court summons. Even in the event of a court summons and hearing, you can be acquitted of the criminal citation if your attorney is able to win the case.
Criminal citations should be taken very seriously because if they aren’t, the consequences can quickly become more severe. Respond to your criminal citation as soon as it’s received or enlist the help of an attorney if you have any questions regarding the criminal citation you received. Have an attorney help oversee your clerk magistrate hearing to ensure you receive a fair ruling by the judge and avoid further trial or jail time.