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New York City Civil Court

Answering a Case

If you have received a summons from the civil court, you must appear and answer before the clerk as soon as possible. You must answer even if the summons does not have an index number. The time allotted to answer is either 20 or 30 days, depending on how you received the summons:
• 20 days - if the summons was delivered to you by personal (in hand) delivery
• 30 days - if the summons was delivered to you by any other method.

If you are a corporation or voluntary association, you must appear by attorney. If you are an individual, you may answer in person by coming to the courthouse and filling out a form. You may download the free Answer Form, but you must bring the form to the clerk's office. To find out where to bring your answer in your county, go to locations. Your answer should include any defense or explanation that you might have. You may also make a counterclaim at that time. You should bring the summons with you.

You may also demand a trial by jury when you file your answer. This requires payment of a jury fee. You may also ask the judge for permission to file a jury demand at a later point in time.

When you file your answer, the clerk will give you information as to how you will be notified to appear in court. You will then have to mail a copy of your answer to the plaintiff. You can learn more about answering at "Instructions for Defendants Answering in Person."

If you do not answer the summons, the plaintiff may be able to have a judgment entered against you. The plaintiff may also be able to garnish your wages or freeze your bank account. If you have received a notice from a marshal or sheriff about a garnishment on your wages or a levy on your bank account, you may be able to vacate your default. You can learn more about this at Vacating a Default Judgment.





























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