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Knowing if a Process Server is Legitimate

Hiring a process server can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. With so many scams out there these days, it’s no wonder that we’re all skeptical about even valid legal services. Unfortunately, the process service industry has also been affected by scammers, so it’s more important than ever to verify that whoever you’re paying is who they say they are.

To make sure the process server you hire is legit, make sure:

They’re Certified

All private process servers in Florida must be certified by the judicial circuit or local Sheriff where they plan to work. Here in Tallahassee, process serves are governed by Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit, which only covers Leon County. A list of currently certified process servers in the 2nd Judicial Circuit is maintained here. If you cannot find the process server’s name that you want to hire on this list, they are not qualified to serve process in Leon County and any process they do serve is invalid. Continue reading

Common Missteps to Avoid When You Get Served

No one wants to get served with a summons to court, but sometimes in life, it just happens. When and if you do ever get served with the court process, it’s important to handle the situation maturely. So many people try to use aggression, deceit, or even violence to get out of being served, but these are the worst things you can do. Each will lead to more legal issues that could end up costing you thousands or even land you in jail!

Avoid these common mistakes we see people make when being served, and you’ll be one step closer to resolving your legal troubles:

Lying

This is probably the most common mistake we see people make when being served. No one ever wants to admit who they are, but that doesn’t always mean service can’t be made. Even without someone admitting to their identity, we can still confirm it with verified photographs, demographic information, and statements from others. Lying can often delay service, but the delay is temporary. Continue reading

What Happens if a Process Server Can’t Serve Someone?

Finding a defendant or witness who needs to be served with the court process usually isn’t too difficult, but occasionally, finding that someone is quite hard. This is a big problem since the clock starts ticking as soon as a civil case is filed in Florida. The plaintiff (and by association, the process server) has a certain number of days to serve the defendant or prove to the court that they have a good reason for not doing so. So the process server needs to find the defendant or witness ASAP to beat the deadline.

120 Days is the Limit to Serve Process

If a case’s process is not served within 120 days from the date the case was filed by the plaintiff, a motion to dismiss the case entirely can be filed. If approved, the case is dismissed and must be completely refiled from the beginning. However, if the plaintiff can convince a judge that they have a good reason for not meeting the 120-day deadline, then the judge might approve an extension. Continue reading

Understand What Paperwork You Should Complete to File a Lawsuit

If you have a legal dispute with another person or business, you may decide to take that person or business to court so you can be compensated financially for your claims against them. However, you must know exactly where to file your case and what forms and information are required. Here in Leon County, you must first know the total dollar amount of compensation you are seeking. This amount will determine which court is appropriate to hear your case, as follows:

  • $8,000 or less – Small Claims Court
  • over $8,000 but less than $30,000 – Leon County Civil Court
  • over $30,000 – 2nd Circuit Civil Court

Note that these totals do not include filing fees, interest, or attorney’s fees. Once you’ve determined which court will hear your case, it’s time to file. The paperwork required for your case entirely depends on the specifics of your case and where it is filed. Continue reading

Can Legal Documents Be Put in a Mailbox?

“Can’t I just leave it in their mailbox?”

It’s a question we get all the time. It makes sense…that’s where people receive important documents and notices, so why not also use it to deliver court process?

Well, the reality is that there is absolutely no circumstance where it’s okay to put the legal process in an intended recipient’s mailbox. In Florida, it is preferred for process to be delivered by hand, in person. Even when it cannot be delivered by hand, it is still not okay for it to just be placed in someone’s mailbox…there are procedures that must be followed to serve a person when they cannot be found in person. Continue reading

Frequently Asked Questions About Process Serving

What is Process?

According to Cornell Law School, a process is a set or collection of documents relevant to a specific court case that are to be served to the defendant(s) named in the case. These papers often include a court summons and the complaint as filed by the plaintiff. When a process is for a witness or other person, the process may include a summons and subpoena.

What is Service of Process?

Cornell states that service of process is the process by which defendants named in court proceedings are given adequate notice of those upcoming court dates. This is related to due process as mentioned in the 14th and 5th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Due process ensures people have adequate time to prepare for a legal case against them. Continue reading

How Long Does It Take to Have My Papers Served?

When you file a legal complaint against another person with the Clerk of Court in Florida county, the countdown begins. It is now the plaintiff’s responsibility to assure that the parties mentioned in the lawsuit and court summons are notified appropriately. In order to comply with this notification requirement, you must provide it by a law enforcement officer or approved private process server.

Deadlines

Summons & Complaints

The plaintiff has 120 days (approximately 4 months) from the date of filing to serve the named defendant(s) with the summons and complaint. For all the guidelines on how process may be served, see Florida’s state laws governing process servers (there are a few!). Continue reading

How Many Times Can a Process Server Come to Your House?

Service of process is the task of formally delivering legal documents to a person or organization. The process server will attempt to deliver the documents to the individual or organization named on the documents if possible. If after several attempts the process is not successfully served, then process servers may resort to leaving the documents with another adult on the premises, or serving by publication in a local newspaper. 

Multiple Service Attempts

If the process server cannot find you on the first service attempt, they will make several more attempts before requesting permission from a judge to serve you by substitution or publication. How many service attempts a process server makes is dependent on several variables, including: Continue reading

Mistakes to Avoid When Process Serving

When you’re working as a process server, there’s a lot to remember. You have to keep the cases you’re working on separated, remember vital information about targets, file proofs with the courts, and notify clients of the status of their specific cases. It’s no wonder that organization is one of the key characteristics of great process servers! Organized process servers avoid making mistakes that could add extra time and cost to their client’s cases, such as:

Allowing Your Certification to Lapse

In Leon County, all process servers must either be appointed and approved by the local Sheriff or certified by Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit. This approval/certification must be renewed at certain intervals to remain valid. If you forget to renew your approval/certification, all the services you provide will be invalid. Continue reading

The Importance of a Process Server in Legal Matters

What do you think of when you envision a process server? Do you see someone dressed in a suit and tie, serving process with an air of authority? Or do you see something more Pineapple Express-ish, with a lazy slacker dressing up in disguises to fool unwitting targets?

No matter what you envision, the fact is that process servers provide an essential legal service for everyone living in the U.S.

Functions of a Process Server

Process servers deliver paperwork related to court cases to the individuals and businesses that they are concerned with, along with information about upcoming court dates. Recipients could be defendants in a legal case, or simply witnesses or subject matter experts. No matter who it is, process servers make sure they get the information they need when they need it. Continue reading