RunSensible’s Legal Dictionary

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Legal Dictionary


A summons is a legal notice that is issued by a court to inform a person involved in a legal proceeding that a complaint or petition has been filed against them. This notice notifies the recipient that they are required to appear in court or respond to the allegations or claims outlined in the legal document that accompanies the summons. The legal document is usually a complaint, petition, or a similar pleading.

A summons is typically issued by the court clerk or an authorized individual, and it contains essential information such as the court’s name and address, the names of the parties involved, the case number, and the deadline by which the recipient must respond.

The summons must be delivered to the recipient (defendant or respondent) in a manner specified by law. This can include personal service (hand-delivery by a process server), certified mail, or other methods permitted by the jurisdiction.

The summons generally includes information about the lawsuit, such as the nature of the claims, the relief sought, and the deadline for responding. It may also contain specific instructions on how the recipient should respond and the consequences of failing to do so. The recipient of a summons is typically required to respond within a specified period, either by filing a written answer or other appropriate legal pleading. Failure to respond may result in a default judgment being entered against them.

There may be different types of summons depending on the nature of the legal action. For example, in a criminal case, a summons may be issued instead of an arrest warrant for less serious offenses. In civil cases, a summons is a common starting point for legal proceedings. In criminal cases, it may be used to compel a defendant to appear in court after an arrest instead of being held in custody.

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