Navigating through the legal process can be challenging and complicated. After you file a complaint, you can't simply serve the legal papers to individual parties, or their legal representatives, involved in legal action. This is where a process server comes in.
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What is a process server?
Basically, a process server is a person who serves legal documents like subpoenas, writs, or warrants, especially those requiring an appearance in court. This person is someone aged 18 years old and not a party to the lawsuit. This person can either be a professional process server, a sheriff, or even an old friend.
Process servers don't just hand over legal documents to other parties. A process server must deliver legal documents in a way that doesn't violate the law and guidelines in order for the service to be valid and recognized by the court. For example, while a process server is in the process of serving legal documents, he or she must not trespass into another party's property. At times, process servers have to be creative in the way they serve legal documents.
Process services don't stop at simply the act of serving legal papers. This person also provides a variety of other legal services, including filing court papers and document retrieval. They may also perform skip traces, a tool that's used to locate persons whose location is unknown. Process servers have the option to work independently, for a process serving company, a court, or even a private investigative firm.
Breaking and entering is not allowed
Many process servers have to serve papers to an individual's home or residence. The civil procedure dictates that a process server is not allowed to enter another party without permission. If a process server unlocks a door or enters a locked building without consent, that is considered illegal.
In cases wherein process service cannot be conducted legally in private property, that process server can either come back at a later time or wait for that person to leave. If the other party is deliberately avoiding the serve papers, the process server must wait for the right time and place to deliver legal documents in a public place.
Harassment is not allowed
The law dictates that a process server cannot resolve to use threats in order to serve papers to another party. He or she cannot use coercive methods in the process of serving legal documents. This means process servers can't force the legal documents on the other party.
Process servers are not allowed to pretend to be law enforcement officers
As process servers serve legal documents, they are not allowed to pretend to be a police officer or a court official to force another party to accept the serve papers. A process server is not allowed to lie about his agenda.
Staking out a person is allowed
While a process server is not allowed to harass an individual, he or she does have the option to stake out a person. He or she can opt to wait at a place where the other party is known to frequent if he or she wishes.
Handing out legal papers to minors is not allowed
The law dictates that a process server is not allowed to hand over a legal document to a minor. That means it's important for the process server to confirm if the person they're giving the papers to are underaged or not.
Can you ignore a process server?
But what if you don't want to receive the papers you've been served with? The law dictates that the process server cannot force a legal document on another person. This means another party can choose to ignore a process server. In cases like this, the attorney has the option to file a motion with the court asking to serve the person in another manner.
In fact, ignoring a process server is quite common, especially in places like California. However, the law will not give up. The process server has the option to deliver the papers through other methods such as mail, drop serve, or even through a publication.
How to become a process server
If the profession of serving legal documents intrigues you, you can opt to become a professional process server. You don't necessarily have to have a background in law enforcement to become one. Plus, you can perform your duties on a part-time basis only.
Licensing requirements for a process server vary from state to state. That's why you need to research the laws in your area before you start serving papers. Regardless of whether a license is required or not, you should research local training programs or ways to best learn how to serve papers in their communities.
Just take note that in terms of compensation, the amount you'll be paid for your services would vary on different factors. This includes your experience and type of employment. As you get more experienced, you will build a bigger network. Hence, the lucrativeness of this profession would depend entirely on how much work you put in.
While the role of a process server can be exciting and the opportunity to make extra money is attractive, it's not as easy as it seems. A lot of people are resistant to laws, after all. However, if you think serving papers is something you might thrive in, you just need to do a little bit of research, and you can start handing out papers for money.