How is the Defendant Served

After a claim has been filed, the magistrate court will serve (notify) the defendant with a copy of the claim and a summons to appear in court.

The defendant has 30 days, in most cases, to give the court a written or oral answer to the claim. If the defendant fails to answer within this time, the plaintiff can ask the judge for a default judgment.

The defendant may file a counterclaim against the plaintiff, if the counterclaim is related to the plaintiff's original charge and the defendant's total monetary claims are also less than $15,000. Counterclaims are usually heard at the same time as the plaintiff's claims. If the judge rules in the defendant's favor on a counterclaim, the defendant may collect damages from the plaintiff.

The court will set a hearing date after the defendant files an answer. The hearing date will usually be 15 to 30 days after the date the answer was filed. The court will notify both parties of the date, time and location of the hearing.


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