It’s not exactly common knowledge, but there are actually two types of arrest that can occur in the State of Indiana. The first type is the one that we’re all familiar with from movies and TV. If you are handcuffed, driven to the police station, and booked, there’s no mistaking that you’re under arrest.
The second type, however, is less obvious. For a low-level misdemeanor that doesn’t involve creating a danger for yourself or others—things like theft, driving while suspended, or minor in possession of alcohol—an officer has the option of issuing a summons arrest.
With a summons arrest, instead of taking you to jail, the officer gives you a piece of paper that says you’ve been arrested. This piece of paper—the summons—tells you when you need to appear in court. It is an order, not an invitation.
Spending the night in jail sends a clear message that you’re in trouble, but being handed a piece of paper? Some people find this easy to ignore, even when the paper includes important-sounding words like court, judge, and warrant.
Too many people who receive a summons arrest treat it like something they can ignore. This is a mistake. If you don’t show up to court on the date you’re supposed to, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. You don’t want an active warrant hanging over your head.
Marion and some other larger counties make things even harder on defendants. In Marion County, the summons doesn’t actually provide your court date. The details are supposed to arrive later via postcard. If you miss the postcard, you’ll miss your court date—and then you’ll have a warrant.
If you receive a summons arrest or a summons to appear in court, this is not something you can ignore. You need to contact an experienced attorney. If you have any questions, give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!