Definition of Citation
Citations can be criminal or civil, although a criminal citation has much more serious ramifications. A criminal citation is used in some jurisdictions for charging someone with a crime without the police making a physical arrest. The citation will generally state the date and time the defendant must appear in court. It will also list the defendant's violations and explain their rights to appeal. The citation will explain the penalties assessed by the court, including court fines. At the hearing the court will decide if there is probable cause to issue the criminal complaint.
Most criminal citations will require the defendant to sign the ticket and send it in to the Clerk-Magistrate. On the back of the citation, it will indicate where it needs to be signed and dated. The citation should be sent to the court directly and not to the P.O. Box address. Criminal citations cannot be paid online, by telephone or through the mail (although some civil citations may be paid this way without a court appearance).Consider talking to a lawyer if you have questions about what to do after receiving a criminal citation. In some cases having a lawyer present at your hearing can improve your chances to have the case thrown out of court and avoid a criminal complaint.