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A summons is a notice served on a person to let them know that a complaint or petition has been filed against them. The summons requires the person to answer the complaint or petition within a certain amount of time, or attend a court hearing on a certain day and time.

In most civil cases, such as a divorce, the person starting the lawsuit completes the summons and serves it on the opposing party. A summons in a criminal case must be issued by a judge.

Responding to a Summons

In most civil law suits, a person has 21 days in which to answer the complaint or petition. If the person is served outside of Utah, they have 30 days in which to answer. The 21/30 day time frame does not apply in all cases. Eviction and small claims cases, for example, have different time frames.

It is very important that you file a written answer to the civil complaint or petition. If you do not answer within the time stated in the summons, a default judgment may be entered against you. This means the other party gets what they have asked for, and you won't have a chance to tell your side of the story.

A summons in a criminal case tells the defendant when to appear in court. If you fail to appear in court, then the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest.


Related Information

The Utah State Courts mission is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.

Page Last Modified: 10/24/2016
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