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Non-appearance in civil suit

Los Angeles, CA |

A relative caused serious injuries to me and other people in a car accident and left the country to avoid liabilities. They received summons from other plaintiffs and filed a response. In my case that was served months later, they were served personally out of the country but have chosen not to answer. All lawsuits are pending.

Now, I understand from an earlier question, that my chances of collection if there is a default judgement is slim. My question is not about this.

Can I get a warrant and criminal charges going if the defendant intentionally refuses to participate/depose, etc, knowing that they are "out of reach"? What options do I have?

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Attorney answers 4


You need to go get a default judgment and then try and collect on it. You can try and get them to appear on a debtors examination to ascertain their assets but good luck if they are out of the country. Sounds as if you will have a judgment that is worthless.

You cannot obtain a warrant and no criminal charges will be filed.

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You can only pursue a judgment in your civil action.

You cannot obtain a warrant, nor will criminal charges be filed. These are not options available to you.

Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


A warrant and criminal charges are not available for failure to participate in the civil suit. However, if you do get a judgment, you are entitled to discovery concerning someone's assets and you may get sanctions or a court order compelling that information. If you suffered injuries because of a deliberate act, as opposed to a negligent act, you should have contacted the authorities to see if criminal charges would have been justified. You do not specify how this occurred so I cannot comment further on this or whether the charges could even be brought at this time.


Your remedies are limited to civil, there will be no criminal penalties