Summons and Subpoenas: Legal Commands to Appear in a Court of Law

Serving a summons

What is a summons?

Legally, a summons is a legal document issued by a court (known as a judicial summons) or by an administrative agency of government (known as an administrative summons) for various purposes.

A judicial summons is addressed to a defendant in a legal proceeding. Typically, the summons will announce to the person to whom it is directed that a legal proceeding has been started against that person, and that a case has been initiated in the issuing court.

In some jurisdictions it may be drafted in dense legal jargon, while several U.S. states expressly require summonses to be drafted in plain English and must begin with the phrase: “Notice! You have been sued.”

Private Investigators as Process Servers

Many private investigators offer processing serving, or service of process, in addition to their investigation services. To find a private detective in your area who can deliver subpoenas, please visit our Private Detective Directory.

More Information

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here