What is a Summons in Colorado?

A summons is different from a warrant. In Colorado, a summons permits defendants to voluntarily appear in court at a specific date and time rather than go through the traumatic and often humiliating process of arrest.

A warrant authorizes the arrest of a defendant. Violent felonies, major drug offenses, and felony offenses with penalties over 10 years in prison still require arrest. Arrest is also required if there is a determination of a substantial risk of defendant’s flight or the defendant poses a danger to the community or witnesses. These allegations must be presented to the court in writing in order to be considered. However, Colorado law now favors use of a summons rather than arrest by warrant.

In order for the court to issue a summons or warrant, there must be probable cause that a crime has been committed and that the defendant is the culpable person. Probable cause must be demonstrated by factual evidence presented in a sworn affidavit. A summons can be issued under these circumstances:

      • The local district attorney consents to the procedure and has developed approved criteria for the issuance of a summons;
      • There is a reasonable likelihood that the defendant will appear;
      • The defendant has had no felony arrests during the preceding five years;
      • There is no allegation that the defendant used a deadly weapon in the commission of the underlying crime;
      • There are no outstanding warrants for the defendant’s arrest.

A summons can be served in person or by mail

In Colorado, a summons can be served personally by anyone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the judicial proceedings, and by the sheriff. Or a summons can be served by mail to the defendant’s last known address by registered or certified mail. The summons needs to be mailed at least 14 days before the date of the required court appearance. Service by mail is only complete upon return of the receipt signed by the defendant or someone authorized to accept service on the defendant’s behalf.

A failure to appear can lead to arrest

If you are served with a summons to appear in court, you should immediately contact a Brighton, CO criminal defense attorney. Failure to appear gives authority to the judge to issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

Contact a Colorado criminal defense lawyer

At the Law Offices of John Anderson, we work hard to defend our client’s rights and clear their names. If you or a loved one has been arrested, detained or charged with a crime in Colorado, contact John today at (303) 880-7994 or online to schedule your initial consultation.