A person may be spoken to by the police or other investigators about an allegation and a report made to decide if an information should be laid. If it is decided to lay an information, she or he would then receive a summons to appear in a particular court at a time and on a date stated in the summons. This is most likely to happen with certain criminal offences where the authorities feel it is better to report, rather than arrest, the person.
A summons is usually served by a police officer or an officer or employee of a public authority, who either gives it personally to the person to whom it is directed or leaves it with someone else who appears to be aged 16 years and over at the person's last or most usual address [Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA) s 27]. A summons can also be served:
- Via post;
- Via fax;
- Via email, although note the additional requirement of access;
- Via another electronic form, such as through the provision of an internet link from which the information can be obtained or downloaded; or
- Via the provision of a USB or other such device which is then provided to the person personally, via registered post, or left at their last known address with someone aged 16 years or over.
See section 27 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA).
If serving a summons via electronic means, it must be ascertained that the person receiving the summons has the means to download/access and (if required) print the document(s) [Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA) s 27(2)].
For more serious offences, a person may be arrested by police without a warrant and then, subject to special provisions of the law allowing a delay, must be taken to a police station in as short a time as reasonably possible to be formally charged with the offence [ Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 78]. She or he may be granted bail by the police officer in charge of the police station (police bail) and must then appear before a Magistrates Court for the first time at a later specified date. If refused police bail she or he must be taken before the court as soon as possible, where she or he may again apply for bail (court bail), see ARREST, YOUR RIGHTS AND BAIL, Bail.
A further option is that a warrant may be issued. This allows any police officer to arrest the person named in the warrant and take her or him to court. This step is usually taken when the person's address is not known and any police officer seeing the person must have the power to arrest. Another situation in which an arrest warrant is issued is when a person has not come to court in answer to their bail or in answer to a summons [Criminal Procedure Act 1921 (SA) s 58].
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.