“I wasn’t arrested, I only got a ticket!”
If you received a “ticket” charging you with an offense AND ordering you to appear at court, you have been arrested!
While it may seem obvious to some, many people are under the mistaken belief that if they’ve been issued a summons WITH A COURT DATE, that they “just got a ticket”; this is dangerous.
For lesser offenses such as motor vehicle violations or minor misdemeanors, the police have the discretion to issue a misdemeanor summons on site, rather than bring someone to the police station where that person is booked, fingerprinted and photographed.
Effectively, when a police officer issues a misdemeanor summons, what the officer is doing is issuing to that person a formal criminal complaint (called an “information”) for a criminal charge or motor vehicle violation, with a promise to appear at court on the set date. THIS IS AN ARREST!
This is different from when the police issue someone a traffic ticket for an infraction such as speeding or failing to yield the right of way, where a designated fine (rather than a court date) is stated on the ticket itself.
Why is this important to understand?
Anytime you go to criminal court, regardless of whether you were charged by way of a misdemeanor summons or taken to the police station where you were booked, fingerprinted and photographed, you must have a competent criminal defense attorney representing you. If not, you risk ending up with a criminal record, or jail time!
If you are being charged by way of a misdemeanor summons, don’t underestimate the consequences that are possible simply because you were never take to the police station and booked, fingerprinted and photographed.
If you are issued a misdemeanor summons, ordering you to appear at court, hire a CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER!