What is a citation?
A citation is a formal document that is used to serve a legal document, and will usually inform the person who is cited to attend court, either as a witness or as an accused.
If you have you received a citation to attend court as a witness, this will either be from the procurator fiscal or the defence lawyers for the accused. (Citations are also used in civil matters, and are dealt with elsewhere on this website). If you have been cited as a witness it will usually be to attend court on a stated date and time to give evidence at a trial. You must attend, and if there is any reason you are unable to attend you should contact whoever cited you, which will either be the procurator fiscal or the defence solicitors. A citation can be received by post, delivered by the police or sheriff officers.
Failure to attend court may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
A citation which contains a further document called a Complaint is served on a person who is required to court to answer criminal charges. This will come from the Procurator Fiscal’s Office with a date and time when you are required to answer the charge or charges made against you.
The citation will tell you what court to appear at, the date and time of the hearing, known as a Pleading Diet. The Complaint will provide details of the charge and a brief summary of the alleged incident. You must answer the charge or charges by the date noted on the citation. This can be done by completing and returning the attached papers or by attending court on the date stated. As these matters are rarely straight forward, it will usually be in your interest to instruct a solicitor. We are experienced in all areas of criminal law and can be contacted on any of the numbers stated on this website for a free initial consultation.
Attending Court at a Pleading Diet
When the case calls in court for the first time there are three options:
- Plead Not Guilty
- Plead Guilty
- Continue the case without plea for further enquiries
Normally if you wish to plead Not Guilty or have the case continued for further enquiry there will be no requirement to attend personally. One of our solicitors can attend.
Should you wish to plead Guilty is likely you will require to attend court. In certain cases involving minor criminal charges, these can be dealt with by letter or by one of our solicitors attending court and pleading guilty on your behalf and putting forward an explanation for the offence.