1. A citation is a written notice to appear in court or respond by mail to answer a charge. Citations are a substitute for an arrest when the offense is minor, for example, a traffic violation.
2. A citation is also an oral or written declaration by a judge to a person who is in contempt of court; for example, a judge can cite a witness for contempt when she refuses to stop yelling at the defendant.
3. Finally, a citation is a reference to a statute or case to provide legal authority for a fact or legal proposition. Legal citation must be done in a particular format. Citation to a case includes the title of the reporter in which it was published, the volume number, the page number and the year the case was decided. For example, if an attorney quotes from the Roe v Wade case in a brief, he or she would insert the following citation:
Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).