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Is It Illegal to Avoid Being Served Legal Papers?

Is It Illegal to Avoid Being Served Legal Papers?

man hiding behind paperwork on desk

A common question that arises in the context of criminal defense cases, as well as others we handle, is “Is it illegal to avoid being served legal papers?” While avoiding being served by a process server, or the individual tasked with delivering the papers, is not illegal, it does result in consequences. In the following piece, we outline some of these potential outcomes, as well as how your paperwork could still reach you despite physical evasion.

What Happens If I Avoid Being Served Court Papers?

Being served a criminal compliant or subpoena to appear in court may be something you may be able to avoid temporarily and is not illegal.  It does, however, present you with a number of further consequences, including:

  • Court orders and decisions being issued without you being present
  • A lengthier, more expensive legal process
  • Drawing other people into your legal issues

How a Process Server Could Still Reach You

Certified Mail

A process server is legally permitted to send court paperwork via Certified Mail, which can be used to show that they successfully delivered the documents, even if you do not respond or sign.

Serving You at Work

Process servers are allowed to present papers at your workplace, which may lead to issues with your employer or coworkers.

Deliver Papers to Another Household Member

A partner, roommate, or adult child can be served with your documents, which is referred to as “substitute service,” and is seen as equally valid as getting the papers to the person being sought.

Posting on Your Door

In the event of physically avoiding a process server continuously, they may request a judge to allow them to leave a posting on your front door.

Public Notice in Local Publication

Should a person continue to not respond to a process server, the latter may publish a notice in a local newspaper about the case.

Get Expert Help from a Criminal Defense Attorney

Rather than trying to avoid a process server and potentially being subject to decisions made in your absence, work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can ensure you get a just outcome. Call one of our Baltimore locations or request a case consultation by using our online contact form.