Monday, July 11, 2011

Who should serve your legal papers… the Sheriff’s Department or a Registered Process Server

Many people looking to get legal documents served are sometimes unsure as to who they should use, the Sheriff’s Department or a Registered Process Server. The answer is “It Depends”. Depending on the situation, either one can be the best option. As the state budget crisis looms in the background, the Sheriff’s department is getting limited in their resources and in time when it comes to serving legal documents. Since a majority of their time is spent in crime prevention and policing the community, many Sheriff’s Departments are now discontinuing their process service due to cutbacks. If they are able to serve, most sheriffs’ departments are limited to attempting serves Monday thru Friday during normal business hours (9am to 5pm). This can pose a problem if the person you are trying to serve is working those hours or have not yet come home.

However, that doesn’t mean that they are not an option or you should not look into using their services. In fact, if the sheriff’s department is willing to serve your documents, in some cases, they may be the best option. In cases where the subject to be served maybe dangerous or confrontational, having a Sheriff make the serve may be appropriate. Every case is different, so each serve may require a certain accommodation and the Sheriff’s department is fully aware of that. In many situations, the Sheriff’s department will recommend using a Registered Process Server to have the documents served.
Registered Process Servers are professionals who are registered by the county in which they work and bonded by a bonding company to serve legal papers in accordance to state rules and regulations. Unlike the Sheriff, a process server will attempt service almost anywhere and both early mornings and late evenings, including weekends.

If you do use a Registered Process Server, It’s a good idea to verify that he or she is a member of a governing body such as the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS) or the California Association of Legal Support Professionals (CALSPro) to ensure they are abreast of any state or local laws that can jeopardize a case if served improperly.

In addition, many of the large process servicing companies like Rapid Legal. Also offer important services that the Sheriff’s departments does not offer such as skiptrace, stakeouts, and filing the proof of service (affidavit of service). This can be a big help if the person you are serving is evading or has moved from their previous address and you do not know how to locate that person.

By knowing your options, the best answer in deciding who you should use to serve your legal papers is…”it depends”


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