Q: When is the deadline date to serve papers to the defendant after the complaint is filed with the clerk?

A simple question that does not come up very often. Most of the practice treatises describe the procedural aspects of service of process but not the deadline date. So, for this question we turned to Cal Jur (California Jurisprudence), the California legal encyclopedia, where we found the following statement in volume 1A. Cal Jur Actions §441:

“The summons and complaint must be served on a defendant within three years after the action is commenced against the defendant. For this purpose an action is commenced at the time the complaint is filed.”

See also California Code of Civil Procedure § 583.210