Warrant vs. Summons in NJ: What’s the Difference?

The Difference between a Warrant and a Summons in New Jersey

If a criminal complaint is made against you in New Jersey, it may result in either a warrant for your arrest or the issuance of a summons, depending on whether New Jersey law allows a warrant to be issued for that offense and a few other factors. This distinction is important because if an arrest warrant is issued against you, you will be taken into police custody for at least some period of time. With a summons, you will be issued a criminal complaint with a specified date and time at which you must appear in court to face the charges. In either scenario, it is imperative to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer representing you. The consequences of criminal charges involving warrants and summonses are severe and a conviction will leave you with a criminal record. Here are the basics about arrest warrants and summonses in New Jersey criminal cases. For additional information, contact William Proetta Criminal Law‘s law office in Ocean County at (848) 238-2100. One of our defense lawyers is available immediately to provide you with a free consultation.

What is a Warrant?

A warrant is a judicially approved document that gives police the authority to arrest an individual or conduct a search and seizure in circumstances where they may not have that authority without the warrant. An arrest warrant also puts law enforcement on notice that a particular individual is wanted for an offense. Under New Jersey law, there are certain offenses for which an arrest warrant must be issued if there is probable cause, and other offenses for which there is a legal presumption that an arrest warrant should be issued, which can be overcome by showing that a defendant is at a low risk for certain safety concerns.

Only a judicial officer can issue an arrest warrant. In order to do so, the judicial officer must determine from the complaint or an affidavit or deposition that there is probable cause to believe that the individual committed or attempted to commit the offense and that New Jersey law allows the judicial officer to issue a warrant instead of a summons.

What is a Summons?

A summons is issued for a complaint when there is probable cause to believe the individual committed or attempted to commit an offense, but an arrest warrant is not required, not presumed by the law, or the presumption of an arrest warrant is overcome by a low risk public safety assessment. A summons can be issued by a judicial officer or a police officer. If a police officer has probable cause to issue a summons, they may do so on their own.

When is an Arrest Warrant Required?

The issuance of an arrest warrant rather than a summons is required under New Jersey law when probable cause exists to believe the individual committed or attempted to commit certain enumerated offenses including murder, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, robberycarjackingaggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, or escape.

If a judicial officer determines that you committed or attempted to commit one of the above offenses, they must issue a warrant for your arrest.

When an Arrest Warrant is Presumed

If a judicial officer has probable cause to believe that an individual committed or attempted to commit certain enumerated offenses that carry a presumption of the issuance of an arrest warrant, they must do so unless the presumption is overcome by a showing that the defendant is a low risk for safety concerns. These offenses include:

Need an Attorney for an Arrest Warrant or Summons in Ocean County, NJ

For offenses that do not require the issuance of an arrest warrant but carry the presumption of an arrest warrant, a judicial officer may decide to issue a summons instead of an arrest warrant if, after reviewing the individual’s public safety assessment, they find that there are reasonable assurances that the individual will not be a risk to public safety, fail to appear in court, or obstruct justice. Regardless of the way in which you have been charged with a criminal offense, the punishments for violating New Jersey laws can impact your finances, your reputation, your future opportunities, and in some cases, your freedom.

If a warrant has been issued for your arrest or you have received a summons in Ocean County, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law today to review your case and determine what defenses may be available to you. We can be reached anytime at (848) 238-2100 or you can send us an email to setup a free consultation with an attorney who can help.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.