Summons or Warrant upon Complaint
The procedure after a complaint is made depends on who is making the complaint and/or whether a complaint-summons or complaint-warrant is being sought. If a private citizen is making the complaint, or a law enforcement officer is seeking an arrest warrant once a complaint is filed, a judicial officer (judge, municipal court administrator or deputy court administrator) makes a determination of whether there is probable cause to believe an offense has been committed and that the defendant may have committed it. If a judge reviews a complaint and does not find probable cause, the complaint is dismissed. If a judicial official other than a judge finds no probable cause, then the procedure contained in R. 3:3-1(d) is utilized to dismiss the complaint. If probable cause is found, a judicial officer must determine whether a summons or warrant should be issued. A summons will be issued unless a judicial officer finds that one of the conditions set forth in R. 3:3-1(c) exists. The conditions for issuing a warrant are: (1) the accused is charged with a serious crime; (2) the accused has previously failed to respond to a summons; (3) the accused is dangerous to self, other persons, or property; (4) there is an outstanding warrant against the accused; (5) the identity or address of the 6
accused is unknown or (6) there is reason to believe the accused will not respond to a summons. If one or more of these conditions exist, the judicial officer must issue a warrant, as opposed to a summons.
If the law enforcement officer decides to issue a summons, that officer may do so without a prior determination of probable cause.