The wheels of justice must continue to turn, even if they seem slow to others. A critical factor of our legal system is communication. It may seem odd to think of, but whenever there is a dispute between people, businesses, and other entities, there must be an opportunity for both parties to respond. While process servers deliver a variety of legal documentation, it is not uncommon for that to include a writ of summons.
What is a Writ of Summons?
A writ of summons is a court order requiring a person or entity to respond to a lawsuit. In general, writs are not used in every case. Instead, they are specific to lawsuits that are related to civil proceedings and criminal law.
Once the writ has been sent out, it must be served on the defendant before any legal action can occur. A person who receives a writ of summons must acknowledge it and attend court at the appropriate time and date. Failure to comply with these terms could result in additional penalties against them.
As you can imagine, there are many parties to a lawsuit. This could be a business suing another business for copyright infringement or a government agency suing a landowner for property rights. Either way, courts, law enforcement, and government agencies rely on a writ of summons as part of their activities in enforcing and upholding the law.
What is the Summons and Subpoena Difference?
What is a service of summons versus a subpoena received? Serving a writ summons starts at the beginning of a legal court case. It is one of the first actions to order for writ summons to compel someone to appear.
A subpoena is different in that it can be issued anytime during a trial. Most of the time, a case has already begun, and the person receiving the subpoena has some form of evidence relevant to the case in question.
An order for writ summons means you are the target of a case and not just presenting evidence.
What Information is Included in a Writ of Summons?
Every state will have its own regulations regarding this legal instrument. For example, Texas requires:
- Plaintiff’s name (entity filing the complaint)
- Defendant’s name (entity being sued)
- Name and Type of Court
- Case Number
- Brief of the Case
- Options for Response
- Deadline for a formal response
What’s a Summons Number & Type?
There will be a summons number on the document being sent via a summons delivery service. This is used to track the writ charges throughout the process.
It’s important to keep this number in mind, so you know the status of a writ as it moves through service, delivery, and recording.
There are also types of writs that are different. For example, a writ of appearance compels an individual to physically or virtually be present during a court case. Whereas a writ of retrieval has more to do with property.
If someone at a residence denies entry to a legal authority, a writ of retrieval can be issued so the property can be brought to the court or appropriate designee.
What is a Writ of Assistance?
This is another unique writ served that directs a party to send or turn over a legal document, property deed, or some form of right of ownership for a property. You usually see this serve a writ action during an eviction or at an auction.
Why Is a Writ of Summons Important?
If you are being sued, you must respond quickly. A writ of summons is the first document that must be served to you in order for the legal process to begin.
The person who files this claim against you must serve it on you correctly to start the case moving toward trial. Serving this document correctly ensures that everything progresses according to schedule and allows both sides time to prepare their cases before a trial begins.
When served correctly, a writ of summons helps protect both parties’ rights while they prepare their cases so that they can present them at trial without any surprises or missed opportunities for discovery (evidence gathering).
How is a Writ of Summons Delivered?
A sheriff can deliver a writ of summons on your behalf, but you need to submit a request to the local clerk, which may take some time as they have other duties. The best option is to hire a professional process server like our team at Houston Process Servers. That way, you will get verifiable confirmation that an attempted delivery has been made and the entity being sued is either choosing not to receive the writ or cannot be located.
As most writs have a formal deadline, a process server will be more reliable. The sole function of a process server is to maintain the timeline of courts by delivering legal documents in an orderly fashion. You would not want to fall behind in your duties by something as simple as missing any deadlines.
A process server will attempt delivery of the writ of summons in person at the entity’s home, place of business, or with the registered agent.
What Happens After a Successful Delivery?
Once the writ of summons has been successfully served, the court will send a notice to appear in court. The party issued with the writ will receive this notice, which tells them when they need to attend court and what they need to bring with them.
It’s essential to remember that this is not an actual hearing. It’s just a pre-trial meeting where both parties can discuss their arguments and learn more about how things work at your local courthouse.
You’ll also receive a notice from the court stating whether or not there have been any changes made since last time (e.g., if someone else was added). If so, make sure these changes are reflected on any documents or contracts.
What Should I Do if I Receive a Writ of Summons?
If you receive a writ of summons, it is crucial to respond to it. You can ask the question of who is responsible for serving a summons in case you disagree with that process after you have responded to the courts first.
The writ will tell you how long you have to file your response and what kind of response is required. You may need to file an answer within a certain number of days or ask for an extension of time in which to do so.
If you do not answer in time, the court can enter a default judgment against you based on the information provided by your adversary.
You may also want an attorney’s help with your case if:
• It involves complex issues or factual disputes that are difficult to understand
• You have been sued in another state
• The other parties are represented by attorneys, and they have filed papers requesting specific legal procedures like discovery
Can I Ignore a Writ of Summons?
You can ignore a writ of summons, but that can have serious ramifications.
For example, if you do not appear in court on the date of your summons, then the court may enforce penalties or legal processes.
A writ of summons is considered to be a lawful document when it comes from an official authority such as a judge or attorney general.
However, just because someone who is not authorized has served you with one doesn’t mean that it is considered valid. If you are unsure whether or not a person is legitimate and has been properly appointed by their office, seek legal advice before taking any action based on their authority.
The worst thing you can do is completely ignore such a document as a writ of summons. If you are being contacted, it is because you are needed for a legal case. Ignoring this can lead to fines, penalties, and worse.
The best thing you can do is speak with a legal representative, like an attorney, to clear up the situation and help you prepare for any pending litigation.
No matter what you decide, hiring a team of professionals to serve a writ of summons ensures documents are properly delivered on time and to the correct party.