As a private individual or business owner, you may find yourself in a situation where a process server approaches you with legal papers. Whether it’s a divorce petition, a debt collection lawsuit, or a criminal complaint, you may be tempted to refuse the papers if you don’t want to deal with the legal matter. However, is it possible to refuse papers from a process server? Can you refuse to accept a summons?

The short answer is, yes, technically, you can refuse to accept a summons. However, doing so will not prevent you from being served with the legal documents. In fact, it may cause you more damage than good in the long run. Furthermore, a process server may still employ other methods to ensure that service of process has taken place.

Other Ways Process Servers Can Deliver Legal Documents To You

Process servers can be quite resourceful in their efforts to deliver papers. If they cannot find you at your home or place of work, they may try to track you down using skip tracing techniques.

Some of the techniques used in skip tracing include searching public records, social media accounts, and other online sources for information about the person being served. Process servers may also try to contact your family members, friends, or associates in an attempt to obtain your current whereabouts.

In addition to skip tracing, there are other ways you can be served if you are avoiding a process server. For example, papers can be left with a family member or co-worker if they are willing to accept them on your behalf. This is called substitute service. In such a scenario, the person receiving the papers must be of legal age.

Papers can also be served by mail or even by email, in some cases. It’s important to note that these methods may not be valid in all jurisdictions, so it’s best to consult with a legal professional if you are unsure about the rules in your area. If you’re looking for a process server in NYC, take a look at our process service page.

Avoiding being served does not make a legal problem go away. If anything, it may expose you to more legal problems and penalties.

What Happens When You Refuse To Get Served With Legal Papers?

The penalties for avoiding service of process can be severe. If you attempt to avoid being served, you risk forfeiting your rights in the case. In addition, you may face fines or other legal consequences. In some cases, intentionally avoiding service of process may be considered contempt of court, which is a criminal offense.

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Let’s take look at these scenarios in more detail.

  • You Risk Forfeiting Your Rights

Defendants who avoid being served risk forfeiting their rights in a legal proceeding. When a person is served with legal documents, they are given notice of the legal proceeding and the opportunity to respond. This is known as due process. If a defendant avoids being served, they may miss important deadlines to respond to the legal documents, which could result in a default judgment being entered against them.

A default judgment occurs when a plaintiff wins a case by default because the defendant failed to appear or respond. This means that the defendant loses the case without having the opportunity to present their side of the story. In some cases, a default judgment can result in the loss of property or assets.

Additionally, defendants who avoid being served may be viewed unfavorably by judges or juries. A defendant who is seen as trying to avoid the legal process may be perceived as guilty or uncooperative. This could potentially harm their case in the eyes of the court.

  • You May Become Liable For The Cost Of Investigation And Skip Tracing

When a defendant avoids being served with legal papers, the plaintiff must use other means to locate them. This is where the cost of investigation and skip tracing comes into play. Skip tracing is a technique used to locate individuals who are difficult to find. It is often used by debt collectors and process servers.

Skip tracing can be a time-consuming and costly process, as it involves collecting information from various sources such as utility companies, credit bureaus, and public records. Skip tracers may also use social media and other online resources to find the defendant’s whereabouts.

The cost of skip tracing can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the amount of time and effort required to locate the defendant. Some skip tracers charge hourly rates, while others charge a flat fee. In addition to the cost of skip tracing, the plaintiff may also have to pay for additional attempts to serve the defendant if they are still unable to locate them.

  • You May Weaken Your Defense

It is essential to understand the importance of being served legal papers. By refusing to accept service, one is essentially depriving themselves of their constitutional right to due process. Due process requires that parties to a legal proceeding are notified of any pending legal action against them, allowing them to have the opportunity to defend themselves in court.

Furthermore, by being served, the defendant becomes aware of the nature of the lawsuit against them, the relief being sought, and the time and place of the hearing. This knowledge is crucial in allowing the defendant to prepare their defense, gather evidence, and ensure their rights are protected.

It is also important to note that simply claiming ignorance of the legal process is not a valid excuse for avoiding service. The court assumes that all parties have knowledge of the legal process, and it is the responsibility of the defendant to keep themselves informed of any legal action against them.

Avoiding Service of Process Isn’t Worth It

Attempting to refuse papers from a process server is not a wise decision for a defendant in a legal proceeding. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but it will likely lead to more problems in the long run.

Refusing to be served does not stop the legal process, and it can result in the defendant losing their case due to forfeiting their rights. At the end of the day, process servers can employ other methods of service of process if the initial attempt is unsuccessful. You may also end up being liable for additional legal fees and the cost of skip tracing.

While it may be tempting to try to avoid being served with legal papers, it is better to understand the consequences and risks of doing so. By working with the process server and addressing the legal issue at hand, you can protect your rights and ensure that the legal process proceeds smoothly.

About Unified Judicial

Unified Judicial Services is a professional Process Service Agency based in New York City and licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

The company is led and managed by a long-serving member of the legal community with extensive experience in the field.

With our commitment to excellence and acute professionalism, we do our best to provide our clients with truly dependable, affordable, and timely service. Unified Judicial Services has provided consolidated insight to the legal community for many years. We are reinforced, authorized, and guaranteed!

Please contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.