In legal matters, receiving legal documents through a process server is a crucial step that ensures due process — something guaranteed to you by our Constitution’s 6th Amendment. However, some individuals may be tempted to evade or avoid being served, believing it will help them escape the consequences of legal action.
Before we take a look at the disadvantages of evading a process server, it’s important to understand what happens when a case is filed against you and what a process server may do in their attempts to connect with you.
Once your name is officially part of a lawsuit or other case, people can search for your name in public court dockets and see that you are or have been a party to a lawsuit or other matter. This includes all sorts of civil proceedings like restraining orders and subpoenas, too. Would you be happy if a background check revealed that you are or were a party to a legal matter?
Process servers must make at least three (sometimes more) diligent attempts to deliver your documents to you. If they are unsuccessful at reaching you at home, they may come to your place of employment and enlist your supervisor’s help in connecting with you. This can be somewhat embarrassing for you, but it is definitely allowable under the law.
Process servers may also attempt to reach you in the early morning hours at your home, before you leave for work or on a weekend. If you don’t enjoy being awakened at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday, be gracious and accept the documents on the first attempt.
Evading a process server may seem like a temporary relief, but it can lead to severe legal consequences. When individuals avoid being served, it prolongs the legal process, which can result in additional expenses and penalties. Courts take such actions seriously and may impose fines for contempt of court. Evading service can also harm your credibility in the eyes of the court, potentially affecting the outcome of your case.
Not only can you face immediate penalties, but evading service can also lead to judgments being entered against you in your absence. This means that the court may make decisions or rulings without your input or defense, which could be highly unfavorable to your interests. By evading a process server, you give up your right to participate actively in your own legal proceedings.
Missed Opportunity for Defense
When you evade a process server, you deny yourself the opportunity to prepare a proper defense and/or to clear your name. By actively participating in the legal process, you can ensure that your side of the story is heard, present relevant evidence, and engage in negotiations or settlement discussions. Evading service means forfeiting your ability to present your perspective and potentially secure a more favorable outcome.
Engaging with the legal process allows you to exercise your rights and ensure that your interests are protected. By evading service, you effectively relinquish control over your own defense and leave the outcome of the case to chance. This lack of involvement can lead to unfavorable rulings, judgments, or settlements that could have been avoided if you had chosen to engage with the process from the beginning.
Evading service may initially seem like a cost-saving measure, as you may initially avoid paying legal fees or fines associated with the case. However, the opposite is often true. By evading a process server, you prolong the legal process, which can lead to increased expenses. Legal fees, court costs, and other related expenses can accumulate over time, further straining your financial resources.
Procrastinating or evading service can result in additional legal fees and costs. For example, if a process server is unable to locate you, they may resort to alternative methods of service, such as publication in a newspaper or posting the documents on your property. In addition to lowering the likelihood that you will ever see the documents that outline the case against you (and thus, increase the chances that a default judgment is entered against you), these alternative methods are often more expensive and can add unnecessary financial burdens to your case.
Additionally, the longer a legal matter drags on, the more likely it is that additional issues will arise, leading to further legal expenses.
It’s important to YOUR interests that you cooperate with a process server and accept documents delivered to you. In fact, many process servers will gladly make an appointment with you to deliver the documents at a time and a place that is convenient to you.