Court Summons & Consumer’s Rights

Court Summons & Consumer’s Rights

A court summons is essentially a notification of a lawsuit delivered to your home or place of employment by a courier. The lawsuit itself, called a complaint, is delivered together with the summons. The official serving of the complaint and summons is the start of the case moving forward. It is important to remember that you have legal rights all throughout the process.

Laws will differ from state to state but the summons generally instructs the defendant to appear before a judge in civil court on a certain date. It may also instruct you to provide an answer to the lawsuit. Note that you have no chance of winning the case if the creditor was able to prove that you defaulted on a credit card and failed to pay the outstanding balance. You will automatically lose the case if you fail to appear in court on the scheduled date.

There is a chance that the attorney will not show up for the hearing or is not prepared for the case. Under either case, the lawsuit may be dismissed. If all proper documentation are prepared, you can expect the creditor’s attorney to present the original application you signed, a record of the charges made throughout the activation of the credit card, a list of all payments missed and copies of correspondence notifying of your delinquency.

You have legal rights to offer a defense during a court hearing. However, the judge will likely side with the creditor’s attorney if he is able to present all the necessary documents and you did not prepare a suitable defense. Possible defenses you can use include identity theft or the credit was not yours in the first place. Whatever defense you choose, make sure you have documented evidence to back up your claim including a police report alleging identity theft or canceled checks showing you paid the balance.

The summons may not include the court date but you can create a written answer to the allegations. If the summons requires a response, you need to write a statement responding to the numbered allegation in the complaint. You have the right to deny all allegation, which is the equivalent of pleading “not guilty”. This enforces the creditor’s attorney to prove the case in court and a court date will be set when you return your answer. The lawsuit will include basic information on how to return your answer.

You have the option to avoid a trial by settling your case with your creditor through their attorney. There is no way to escape the debt if the credit can prove that the debt is yours. If the creditor wins, the judgment is issued which requires you to pay in full including legal fees. If you fail to pay, the creditor has the right to request for garnishment of your bank account or wages.

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