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The Where When And How Of Process Service

On the surface, process serving appears to be a fairly simple job. All one must do is deliver court summons and other legal paperwork to those who are involved in legal proceedings. However, the task is not always as simple as it appears. In order to protect the rights of those who are served, there are specific laws and procedures that govern the service of process. Failure to follow any of these guidelines may result in the case being dismissed and even legal action against the process server.

When Can Process Be Served?
This depends on the laws set forth by your jurisdiction. For example, process may not be served on Sundays in several states. In some states, it is illegal to serve process on holidays, or even on Election Day. Many places have made it illegal to serve process on someone who is going to or from a court of law. The laws vary widely, so be sure that you are fully aware of those that apply in your area.

Where Can Process Be Served?
Process is typically served at the recipient's home or place of business. However, if your intended recipient does not want to be served, you may need to consider alternative locations. Process has successfully been served in all sorts of public locations. Remember that you may not violate trespass laws, and your particular jurisdiction may prohibit service in certain locations.

How Can Process Be Served?
Actually getting the recipient to accept service can be an exceptionally difficult task. You may need to employ various techniques, from catching the recipient off guard to dropping the papers at his or her feet. Be very careful to pay attention to the laws and procedures that govern process service in your local area. In general, however, you will be prohibited from impersonating an officer or other government official or state worker. You are also forbidden to employ a full disguise in most jurisdictions. However, you may be allowed to use props that make the suggestion of being someone else, such as carrying a pizza.

You may be permitted, as a last resort, to serve process to a legal adult who resides in the same location as the intended recipient. However, you will need to carefully document this type of service as well as justify the reason that you did not personally serve the papers to the intended recipient.

Dropping the papers at the recipient's feet may qualify as service in some jurisdictions. Others require the papers to actually touch the recipient's body in some way. The laws are extremely complicated and sometimes vague, so be sure to retain as much evidence of service as you can. This may include taking pictures of the recipient picking up the papers.

The Bottom Line
Process service is far from an exact science. There are numerous procedural regulations and laws that may come into play when attempting to serve process. It is strongly recommended that a process server seek legal advice from a qualified attorney prior to serving process in an unorthodox manner. Always remember to follow all federal, state and local laws, while thinking creatively to serve process in a manner that works for your situation.

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Process Server Associations
Process Server Trespass Issues
The Where When And How Of Process Service
Rules of Process Serving
Skills of a Successful Process Server
The Rights of the Person Being Served
Tips and Tricks for Process Servers
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Hiring a Process Server
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Process Server Conventions
Process Server Education
Serving Process on Special Populations
Serving Process on Those Living Elsewhere
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