1

Does California allow a plaintiff to file a small claims case and either not serve the defendant or defer the serving until some time in the future (perhaps the plaintiff has 6 months to serve the defendant)?

3

Service is not optional is California, see the court page on service. The specific rule, Rule 3.110, says that

The complaint must be served on all named defendants and proofs of service on those defendants must be filed with the court within 60 days after the filing of the complaint. When the complaint is amended to add a defendant, the added defendant must be served and proof of service must be filed within 30 days after the filing of the amended complaint.

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