Some of the documents you receive as part of a lawsuit are confusing. This page will explain the parts of the Notice of Intention to Defend that protect your right to have a trial.
If a Notice of Intention to Defend is not filed, the Court may rule against you and award money to the person who sued you based on only the proof they show the Court. If you complete and return the Notice of Intent to Defend, then the person suing you will be required to appear before the Court and prove his/her case before a judgment can be entered against you.
If you have been sued in District Court, the lawsuit against you will have two important documents that you need to closely review.
First, it contains the Complaint. This document tells you who the plaintiff is and explains the claim you are being sued for. You should read this document and any attached exhibits closely, and decide if any of the allegations are false or if you have possible defenses to the claim.
The second document is called a Writ of Summons. Basically, this document is a Court Order requiring you to appear for trial and must include proof to the Court that you have been served correctly. . If you did not receive the Complaint in person or from a certified letter marked “restricted delivery” please see here.
At the bottom of the Writ of Summons under a dotted line is the Notice of Intention to Defend. This document should be returned to the Court to let them know that you intend to defend your case.
IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU COMPLETE AND RETURN THE NOTICE OF INTENTION TO DEFEND OR JUDGMENT MAY BE ENTERED AGAINST YOU WITHOUT A TRIAL.
At the top of the Notice of Intention to Defend there are lines to fill out. Here is where you can find that information.
Case Number: That information is in a box at the top right of the Writ of Summons.
Defendant: Put your name here. You are the defendant. You are the name on the first line on the Writ of Summons. If the Writ does not have your name on it, then you are not the person being sued. If you know the person whose name is on the summons you may give the Writ to the appropriate person listed as the Defendant.
Complaint #: That information is in a box at the top right of the Writ of Summons.
Trial Date: That information is in a box at the top right of the Writ of Summons. This is when you must go to court.
Checkboxes for 15 or 60 days: Please use the 15 days if you were served in Maryland, and 60 days if you were served anywhere else.
Brief explanation of defenses: You should contact the Maryland Court Help Center, Get help now. They may be able to help you find a defense that you did not even know that you had.
If you are unable to reach someone, review the list of available defenses on the Six Steps Page. If any of them apply to you, you may list it on this line. Be aware that what you write on this line may be used against you at your trial.
The Court is considering whether you owe your debt, whether there is proof that the plaintiff is who you owe your debt to, and whether there are any excuses that may allow you to avoid your debt. It is not a legal defense that you cannot afford to pay your debt or that you lost your job.
You should NEVER admit to owing your debt on the defense line.
The remainder of the document needs little explanation.
- You should date the Notice, sign it, print your name.
- List your address. Be sure to list an address where you will be able to receive mail from the Court. You will need an address at which you can receive all future court letters, such as postponements or other changes to your trial.
- The Court requests a Home/Work Telephone Number: While it does not list cell phone as an option, you may list your cell phone number if that is the best number to reach you. It is important to again list a telephone number at which you will receive calls.
- There is a line for Fax (this may be blank if you have no fax machine).
- There is a line for E-mail: Again leave an email address where the court may reach you regarding any changes to the date or location of your hearing. You may leave this blank as well if you do not have an e-mail address. You should think twice about using a work e-mail address if your employer has restrictions about purposes for which you can use that e-mail, or if there would be consequences if the employer finds out that you have been sued.
Seeking Help Now?
Contact the Maryland Court Help Centers
This site offers legal information, not legal advice, hopefully, it will give some guidance on steps you can take when you have been sued. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However, we do not provide legal advice – the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult the self-help center or an attorney.