Criminal summons is one of the two methods of arraigning suspects still at large. Article 28 (5) of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda provides that except with his or her consent, the trial of any person shall not take place in the absence of that person unless the person so conducts himself or herself as to render the continuance of the proceedings in the presence of that person impracticable. The Court makes an order for the person to be removed and the trial to proceed in the absence of that person.
Criminal summon is a legal document presented to someone telling them what date to appear at policy or in Court. It is issued by Court containing several facts justifying an inquiry into a complaint against a suspect or an accused requiring him or her to attend the inquiry. A criminal summons consists of; a statement of crime and an order directing that person to appear and answer to the charges made against him/her.
Service of summons shall be effected personally by either a police officer or an officer of the Court or by any other public servant. A duplicate copy of summons is one tendered to the suspect or accused. It shall be signed acknowledging receipt on the back of the original copy.
Sections 44 – 51 of the Magistrates Court Act, Cap 16 provides for the form, content, and service of summons.
Note: No summons is invalid due to technicalities if the statement is sufficient to identify the crime. This is because the rationale of summons is to ensure the suspect/accused knows the complaint or charge against them.