Imagine a stranger rushing up to ring your doorbell or coming to your office with legal filings that he or she must get to you directly, and in person. What is probably happening is you are being served legal process. You will probably be a little intimidated and could feel like you're being stalked, but you should know that you have a civil right to these filings as part of the due process guarantee. Whether these filings are related to criminal or civil court, you need to read them carefully.
We want to go over some of the types of court filings you can be handed more extensively because we want to help relieve your anxieties.
It's ideal if your process serving is expected and comes from the hands of a courteous constable like those at family law East Troy, Wi. These people are generally hired by the prosecutors or the party filing suit, and they owe their clients professional, legal and prompt service. They also need to respect your rights: the same timely delivery, no illegal intimidation and procedures of service that follow the law.
Broadly, here are the a few of the categories of court filings you could get from a process server:
Summons: Whether whether it's a felony, misdemeanor, tort or otherwise, a summons is an order for you to appear in a court. These should always state a date and time on which to appear. If you don't appear, you can either lose the case immediately or face contempt charges.
Subpoenas: These fall under separate rules from complaints and usually have to be sent by a court clerk. They are a category of summons, but they force you to appear as a witness to give testimony, require you to present documentary evidence or make you attend a deposition with an lawyer. These are often served between attorneys rather than to you in person, but not responding can mean contempt charges or a forfeiture of your claims and a ruling against you.
Small Claims Summons: Process serving documents related to small personal disputes generally come from small claims court as complaints. These generally force you to make the debt right with the issuer or to meet your opponent in court. If you don't, you will almost certainly have a judgment entered against you on your credit report.
Petitions: This kind legal pleading begins a case, but asks for something other than money such as a Writ of Mandamus (an order to do or cease doing something) or Habeus Corpus (a request for an arrested person to hear the charges against them These can also be given in cases such as those in family law.
Indictments: These criminal filings come after a grand jury, led by a prosecutor, gathers to weigh evidence in a potential criminal case against you. A grand jury, like a regular jury, is made up of fellow citizens but the proceedings aresecret. This special jury meets to decide whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to charge you with a crime. Without one of these decisions, the most serious crimes, such a murders, cannot be prosecuted. These documents will be given to you or your lawyer.
Complaints: A complaint is a kind of legal document, usually civil, and is generally the first kind of legal document filed in a case. If you are served with one of these, it means you are the defendant in a lawsuit. There can also be criminal complaints, which are more severe than tickets or citations but often less serious than indictments.
Civil Summons: This is a kind of legal complaint in a civil matter that includes a specific time and date when you should go to court. It is separate from a simple filing informing you of the lawsuit.
Citation: These are a particular type of summons handed out, generally, by police officers, so aren't really process serving. The most common citations, including those for traffic violations, generally require that you go before a judge by a specified date. Accepting one of these is not saying you're guilty but, instead, a promise to appear. Failure to do so can mean automatic findings of guilt and escalating fines.
Administrative Summons: These are give by the IRS and are for the purpose of ensuring that everyone pays heed to the tax laws. These administrative orders require the receiving party to appear before a federal tax examiner and produce documentation. This is set aside as the final step in an IRS investigation after agents have tried to get the taxes due in other ways.
The U.S. Constitution, like the constitutional documents of many other governments around the globe, protect residents by guaranteeing due process. That means everyone is entitled to a chance to make their case. Professional process service is a very important part of this civil guarantee and, when done properly, can make the situation work better.