6-17 Virginia Uniform Summonses

Policy Type: Local

Responsible Office: Chief John Venuti, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department

Initial Policy Approved: 8/26/2013

Current Revision Approved: 3/19/2018



It is the policy of the VCU Police Department to fully comply with state law pertaining to the issuance of Virginia Uniform Summonses and the release of individuals from police custody. The purpose of this directive is to establish the policy and procedures for completing, issuing, and distributing Virginia Uniform Summonses for traffic and criminal matters.


Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any violations of policy are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated.



  1. When release of a person accused of a misdemeanor offense is permitted on a Virginia Uniform Summons as discussed below, the officer shall record the name and address of the accused, along with any other descriptive information needed to complete the summons, and shall release the accused from custody upon obtaining their written promise to appear in court on the date and time identified on the summons.
    1. Class 1 or 2 Misdemeanor Summons Requirement
      1. Per Code of Virginia §19.2-74, when a law enforcement officer detains a person for committing a Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor in such officer’s presence, the officer shall release the accused on a Virginia Uniform Summons, unless one of the following applies:
        1. The accused fails to sign the summons
        2. The accused fails to discontinue the unlawful act
        3. The officer believes the accused is likely to disregard the summons
        4. The officer believes the accused is likely to cause harm to themselves or any other person
        5. The accused is detained for DUI (Va. Code §18.2-266)
          1. Exception: If any person under suspicion for driving while intoxicated has been taken to a medical facility for treatment or evaluation of their medical condition, the officer at the medical facility may issue, on the premises of the medical facility, a summons for a violation of §18.2-266 and for refusal of tests in violation of subsection A or B of §18.2- 268.3 or subsection A of §46.2-341.26:3, in lieu of securing a warrant and without having to detain that person, provided that the officer has probable cause to place the person under arrest. The issuance of such summons is deemed an arrest for purposes of Article 2 (§18.2-266 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2.
    2. Class 3 or 4 Misdemeanor Summons Requirement
      1. Per Code of Virginia §19.2-74, when a law enforcement officer detains a person for committing in the officer’s presence a Class 3 or 4 misdemeanor or any other misdemeanor for which the accused cannot receive a jail sentence, the officer shall release the accused on a summons unless:
        1. The accused fails to sign the summons, or
        2. The accused fails to discontinue the unlawful act, or
        3. The accused is detained for public intoxication (Va. Code §18.2-388 or similar local ordinance), or
          1. Exception: If the accused is admitted to the ER for treatment and is able to provide their written promise to appear in court, the accused may be released from custody on a Virginia Uniform Summons.
        4. The accused is detained for remaining at a place of riot or unlawful assembly after having received a warning to disperse or similar local ordinance (Va. Code §18.2-407)
        5. If any of the above applies, the officer then arrests the accused and proceeds according to the warrantless arrest procedures set forth in the Code of Virginia §19.2-82 (see below).
  2. Appearance Before a Magistrate – (see Va. Code §19.2-82 for Warrantless Arrest Procedures)
    1. Any custodial arrestee must be brought before a magistrate (either in-person or via a video magistrate system) for a probable cause hearing.
    2. If a warrant is issued by the magistrate, it will be deemed “releasable” or “non-releasable” at the magistrate’s discretion. The magistrate also has the discretion to assign a secure or unsecure bond, unless the severity of the offense and/or the accused’s criminal history triggers a presumption to hold the accused without bond until a preliminary hearing can be held on the matter.
    3. If a warrant is not issued by the magistrate, the accused shall be released from custody. The arresting officer shall not seek a warrant again for the same offense or attempt to summons that person again for the same offense without first seeking advice from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. The arresting officer is also not permitted to attempt to seek a warrant from a different magistrate after the initially sought warrant is denied by the magistrate (i.e. – magistrate shopping is prohibited).
    4. If the arresting officer believes the magistrate has erred in their judgment, the officer shall notify supervision. If the supervisor believes that probable cause does, in fact, exist, the chief magistrate may be contacted; however, this is only under exceptional circumstances.
    5. Should the chief magistrate also decline the warrant and the arresting officer/supervision still believe that there is probable cause for an arrest, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office should be consulted regarding a grand jury indictment. Again, for misdemeanor cases, this will only occur under exceptional circumstances.
    6. If additional facts are subsequently obtained that support a probable cause finding for an arrest, the investigating officer shall consult with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in situations where a previously requested warrant was denied before seeking a warrant for the same incident from the magistrate’s office again.
  3. “Permitted” Misdemeanor Arrest Warrants and Magistrate-Issued Summonses
    1. The magistrate’s office may issue summonses and these documents look much like an arrest warrant, but contain a large “S” in the upper right corner. The document will be handled in accordance with the same procedures for releasing an arrestee on a hand-written Virginia Uniform Summons.
    2. “Permitted” misdemeanor arrest warrants are issued by a magistrate and contain a large “M” in the upper right corner of the document. A law enforcement officer may obtain a permitted misdemeanor warrant by appearing under oath before a magistrate for a probable cause hearing on the criminal complaint. Upon issuance, there will be a box checked on the warrant to indicate that it is “permitted at officer’s discretion,” which means that the arresting officer may execute the warrant by serving the warrant on the accused in lieu of a custodial arrest. At the time of service, the officer must compete the court date information and have the accused sign the document to confirm their promise to appear in court. The same rules apply to this document as with a magistrate-issued summons or a standard Virginia Uniform Summons.
  4. Completing the Virginia Uniform Summons
    1. The following section will explain and stipulate directions for completing each field on the uniform summons:
      1. City of/County: Circle “City of” and write “Richmond” on the line below.
      2. iCourt Type: Check the appropriate box for Traffic, Criminal, or Juvenile and Domestic Relations (JDR) court.
      3. iCourt Address: On the first line, write the street address of the court building: “400 N 9th St” for criminal and traffic court and “1600 Oliver Hill Way” for JDR court. On the second line, write “Richmond, VA 23219.”
      4. Court Date Information: Enter court date with Month and Day, complete the year field, and enter the time. Criminal = 0900 hours; Traffic = 1100 hours (at least two weeks from offense date); Juvenile Traffic = 1st Thursday of Month @ 1400 hours; Juvenile Criminal Arraignments = 1000 hours (at least three weeks from offense date).
      5. Law Section: The Code reference for the violation (i.e. §46.2-852, C 27-129, etc.). The charge should be written out/described on the subsequent lines (i.e. reckless driving, blocking an intersection, etc.).
      6. VCC: Virginia Crime Codes – need to be completed before the document goes to court for all criminal offenses. Any infraction has a VCC, but are otherwise optional if it is not a criminal offense.
      7. Vehicle/Incident Type Box: This is located to the left of the VCC box – check the applicable boxes. Typically, these will be “No.”
      8. Signature Line: This is where the defendant signs the document indicating their promise to appear in court or to contact the clerk’s office to make other arrangements if it is deemed a “pre-payable” offense. Note: ensure the signature is the same or similar to that on the arrestee’s driver’s license (if present for comparison).
      9. Only Call: Print the phone numbers for the court clerk’s office here, which is (804) 646-6431 for Richmond City Traffic/Criminal Court and (804) 646-2942 for Richmond City JDR Court.
      10. Name Field: Arrestee name – last, first, middle.
      11. Res. Address: Physical address of the arrestee (not a P.O. Box).
      12. Res. Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction code of the arrestee’s physical address. These are located on the inside of the summons book cover.
      13. City/Town, State, Zip: Print the arrestee’s physical City/Town, State, Zip Code.
      14. Race: This is physical description information used to identify an arrestee. Codes entered in this location may only include the following: A = Asian; AM = American Indian/Alaskan Native; B = Black; H = Hispanic; W = White; U = Unknown. The arresting officer may also ask the arrestee if unsure or which they prefer.
      15. Sex: This is physical description information used to identify an arrestee. M = Male, F = Female. This information is obtained from the arrestee’s issued driver’s license or state identification card or through official DMV information. It is not based upon an individual’s appearance or preference at the time of the arrest.
      16. D.O.B.: The arrestee’s date of birth in two-digit format: MM-DD-YY.
      17. HT.: The arrestee’s height (Feet / Inches).
      18. WGT: The arrestee’s weight (pounds).
      19. Eyes: The arrestee’s eye color in three-character format: BLK = Black; BLU = Blue; BRO = Brown; GRY = Grey; GRN = Green; HAZ = Hazel; MAR = Maroon; PNK = Pink; MUL = Multicolored; XXX = Unknown.
      20. Hair: The arrestee’s hair color in three-character format: BAL = Bald; BLK = Black; BLN = Blonde/Strawberry; BLU = Blue; BRO = Brown; GRY = Grey; GRN = Green; ONG = Orange; PLE = Purple; PNK = Pink; RED = Red/Auburn; SDY = Sandy; WHI = White; XXX = Unknown.
      21. DL/CDL#: The arrestee’s driver’s license/ID number, CDL fields, and state of license (*SSN entered here for criminal charges*).
      22. VEH: Vehicle information (if applicable).
      23. Jurisdiction of Offense: Richmond City = 120.
      24. Date of Offense: The date in MM-DD-YY format, Day of week.
      25. Time: The clerk’s office prefers that we not use military time in this field.
      26. Direction: If applicable, N, S, E, or W.
      27. Accident: Check applicable box to indicate whether there was or was not a collision.
      28. Weather: Note the weather conditions at time of incident.
      29. Route Number/Street: The route or street in which the incident occurred. This is not an intersection—simply the road/street name or number (if applicable).
      30. Location of Offense: A specific address, an intersection, a location on a road to the nearest 1/10 mile from a known landmark, etc. This is the location where the incident occurred, not necessarily where a person or vehicle was stopped or located.
      31. Arrest Date: The date the accused was arrested, which may be the same as the offense date. Write the date in MM-DD-YY format and avoid writing “same.”
      32. Arrest Location: Location where the arrest occurred/stop occurred, which could be the same as the offense location and avoid writing “same.”
      33. Officer: Arresting officer’s initials and last name.
      34. Code/Badge No.: Arresting officer’s 4-digit badge number with “VCUPD” written above or below. This enables the clerk to identify the agency of the officer issuing the summons.
      35. Mailing Address: An offender may provide an alternate address, especially if their information has changed and the officer was not made aware of this after a summons was completed. Check “Change from D.L.” and write the correct address in this field.
  5. General Procedures Concerning the Virginia Uniform Summons
    1. Arresting officers must complete the summons as completely and accurately as possible.
    2. All Class 1 and Class 2 Misdemeanor Offenses require the accused to appear in court and the verbiage under the signature line should be crossed through.
    3. Other traffic offenses, infractions, and Class 3 and 4 misdemeanors may be marked as “prepayable” following the court guidelines on pre-payable offenses. The box noting “pre-payable” should be checked.
    4. Driving offenses should include the driver’s license number in the SSN/OLN field. If the offense falls under the Virginia criminal code, the social security number should be in the field, if available.
    5. VCU Police utilizes the standard code reference found in the Code of Virginia. The “State” box should be checked for these offenses. If a city code is enforced with the uniform summons, only then will the “City” box be checked.
    6. Officers will print their first and middle initial with their last name in the “Officer” field.
    7. Officers will print “VCUPD” with their four-digit badge number in the “Code/Badge No.” field.
    8. Only one charge may be included on each summons.
    9. Officers maintain two court dates per month. Officers shall not issue summonses for hearing dates less than two weeks from the offense date. Officers shall also comply with all notification of court date conflicts.
    10. After signing the document, the defendant is provided with the yellow copy of the uniform summons (marked “Defendant’s Copy PG2” in red letters).
    11. When citing multiple violations, the initial reason for the stop must be issued on a uniform summons, particularly for DUIs and when citing secondary offenses like seat belt violations.
    12. In accordance with the Code of Virginia §46.2-936, whenever any person is detained by or in the custody of an arresting officer, for a violation of any provision of Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia that is punishable as a misdemeanor, the accused has a right to request an immediate hearing, or a hearing within twenty-four hours or the next available court date (conflicts with weekends, holidays, etc.). If during the applicable clerk of the court’s business hours, the arresting officer shall notify a supervisor and contact the clerk’s office, at the scene if possible, to ensure the court is open and there are no conflicts prior to releasing the defendant for a next-day hearing.
  6. Internal Paperwork Procedures
    1. Officers may obtain new summonses books from any patrol supervisor.
    2. After issuing a Virginia Uniform Summons and prior to the arresting officer’s end of tour, the officer must separate and retain the “Officer Copy” for their personal records and deposit the remaining copies in the mailbox labeled “COURT” in the patrol supervisor’s office area. Any CCRE for Class 1 or 2 offenses must be attached to the summons(es).
    3. Upon receipt of the remaining copies, the patrol supervisor must forward them as follows:
      1. “Court Copy” to the appropriate court.
      2. “Agency Copy” to the Education and Training Program Coordinator.
    4. Summonses that are damaged, destroyed, or upon which a clerical error is written and the document is not issued, it shall be destroyed via shredding or placed in an appropriate secure shred box.
    5. Lost paperwork containing arrestee information should be reported to a patrol supervisor as soon as possible.


Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

8/26/2013 - 6-17 Virginia Uniform Summons