Summons Vs. Subpoena: What is the Difference?

Receiving a summons or a subpoena can be overwhelming. What are these documents? Why did you receive one? And what are the main differences between them? In this article, we’ll explain the difference between a summons vs. subpoena. We’ll also explain what to do after you get one.

What is a Summons?

A summons (also sometimes called a “notice to appear”) is an official order to appear in court. If you are receiving a summons, it might mean that you have been directly charged with a crime or that someone is pressing civil charges against you. You might also receive a juror summons, telling you that you’ve been selected for jury duty. The summons will give you a specific date to appear in court. Failing to appear can have legal consequences.

What is a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a document that requests information that could be useful in a case. If you receive a subpoena, you usually aren’t being charged in the case itself. However, a judge has determined that you might have information that could help the proceedings. Just like with a summons, a subpoena will give you a specific date to appear in court. You might also face legal consequences if you don’t appear.

Summons Vs. Subpoena: The Main Difference

Both a summons and a subpoena serve the same purpose- instructing an individual to go to court. However, the documents themselves are very different and are used in different situations. The main difference between a summons vs. subpoena is that with a summons, you are involved in a lawsuit, whereas with a subpoena, you are being asked to provide information related to a lawsuit.

What To Do Next

Receiving a summons or a subpoena can be a scary experience. If you receive either of these documents, then it’s important to speak to an attorney. He or she can help you understand what’s going on and how you can navigate your court appearances with as little stress as possible.

Talk to a Lawyer Today

Whether you’ve received a summons vs subpoena, the Edwards Sutarwalla team can help. Our dedicated attorneys are here to assist you with a wide range of legal needs. Call us at 713-565-1353 to schedule a consultation today.


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