Notice To appear: All You Need To Know About A Notice of Appearance

Did you receive a notice to appear and now what?

You got a notice of appearance and you want to learn more about what it means.

What is a notice to appear and what does it entail?

In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about a notice to appear.  

After reading this, you’ll know all you need to know about a notice of appearance.

Stay tuned…

What is a notice to appear

A notice to appear is a term used under different laws to notify a person to appear before a judge.

You can say that a notice of appearance is like a summons.

For example, a notice to appear can be given by a US police officer also known as a traffic summons or citation.

Typically, a notice to appear is given in the context of minor violations or crimes.

A notice to appear can also be used by administrative courts such as an immigration court.

If you receive a notice to appear under the immigration laws in the United States, you are asked to appear before an immigration judge and are facing potential removal charges.

Regardless under which law you are issued a notice to appear, the objective is to have you present yourself in front of a judge relating to some legal proceedings against you.

Notice of appearance under US traffic laws

A notice to appear in court under US traffic laws is the same thing as saying you received a traffic summons.

If you are caught for a traffic violation, the police officer can issue a notice to appear depending on the severity of the violation.

When you are given a notice of appearance, you are not found guilty of the charges, you are asked to appear in court to respond to the charges.

Once you appear in court for the first time after receiving the court appearance notice, you will inform the court whether or not you will want to plead guilty.

If you plead guilty, you’ll immediately assume the legal consequences of the charges.

If you plead not guilty, your legal case will start and you’ll need to do what’s necessary based on your court rules to defend yourself.

Court appearance under US immigration laws

You can also get a court appearance under US immigration laws for example. 

Typically, it’s called a Notice to Appear.

This is a document issued by the immigration administrative courts for you to appear before an immigration judge.

The notice to appear can be mailed to you or served in person.

No matter what, you’ll need to react and appear before the judge.

In some cases, the notice to appear is sent to you because of removal charges are filed against you.

This means that the US government believes that you must be deported and they are starting the process to remove you from the country.

The consequences of a notice to appear in this case are significant. 

What type of information is on the notice to appear

The notice to appear must be very clear.

You should know which court is issuing the notice to appear, where are you required to appear, on what date and at what time.

You must read your notice to appear carefully so you can comply.

The notice to appear serves as your notification that you must make a court appearance.

Fundamentally, you are given a notice so you have enough time to prepare and even consult with an attorney if you need legal guidance.

Appearance notice vs promise to appear

What is the difference between an appearance notice and a promise to appear?

The appearance notice and a promise to appear both attempt to achieve the same goal.

They are both designed to have you make a court appearance.

The appearance notice is a notification issued by the police officer directly to the recipient on the scene of a crime or violation.

On the other hand, a promise to appear is not necessarily issued by the police officer apprehending you on the scene but may be given to you by another officer after you have gone to the police station.

Another police officer will have you sign a promise to appear where you acknowledge in writing that you will appear in court on the given date and time.

In some cases, at the same time as you sign the promise to appear, the police will also give you some restrictions or conditions to respect.

Defective notice to appear 

A notice to appear must respect the requirements of the law for it to be valid.

If you are served with a notice to appear without a date or time noted on it, that can render the notice invalid.

In the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Pereira v Sessions indicating that a Notice to Appear issued by the Immigration Court that does not contain date and time of the hearing is defective.

With a defective notice to appear, the Immigration Court will not have jurisdiction over the case.

Depending on your jurisdiction, you’ll need to look at how the courts interpret a defective notice to appear.

It may be that when the legal consequences are severe, the courts may not tolerate a defective notice to appear as much as in cases where the legal consequences may be minor.

You’ll need to consult a lawyer to ensure you understand the legal aspects surrounding a defective notice to appear.

You do not want to be in a situation where you needed to comply with a court appearance notice and did not thinking that the notice is defective.


A notice to appear is an important legal document.

If you receive one in person or by mail, make sure you read it carefully to understand what is being asked from you.

Which court issued the notice of appearance?

What does the notice to appear contain as information?

What on date do you need to appear in court?

You should prepare yourself so you know what to do on the court appearance date and what to expect.

If you need to consult a lawyer, it’s the time.

You don’t want to start a legal case if you are not sure what you are doing or what is going on.

We hope this article was useful in helping you better understand a notice to appear.

We would love to hear from you if you have any feedback to share with us.

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