The use of a process server is a professional way to meet the requirement of serving legal documents via a third party. To meet legal requirements and avoid breaking the law, process servers must know and follow the legal guidelines set forth in their state. 

What Does a Process Server Do?

Some types of legal papers require a third party to serve the papers. Using a process server is a convenient professional option. It can help ensure the legal requirements are met.

A process server might be used to serve divorce papers or to give notice of a personal injury case. They can serve a variety of legal documents, including:

  • Summons
  • Complaints
  • Subpoenas
  • Writs
  • Other court documents

When a process server is hired, they are provided with the necessary legal papers, a list of places they might find the individual, and a photo for identification. Lawyers use process servers in all kinds of cases, from car accident cases to nursing home abuse lawsuits.

What Can a Process Server Do to Locate Someone?

The laws for process servers vary by state. A process server must know and abide by the law to avoid legal consequences. 

In Augusta, GA, process servers must follow procedures as laid forth by the Georgia courts. The state of Georgia has a handbook that outlines the requirements for process servers in the state. 

Follow the Schedule

If a process server has been informed of where an individual is likely to be found, they can visit their residence or workplace and attempt to serve papers. 

Suppose an individual is attempting to elude the process server. In that case, the server may wait outside their residence or workplace and attempt to serve papers while they are exiting or entering the building. This is typically the best approach for serving papers in person. 

Use a Backup Option

If a process server has exhausted other attempts to serve papers, there are two alternative options. They can serve the papers by mail, or they can leave the papers with another adult at the residence.

These options should be used only as a last resort, especially if the individual is attempting to evade being served. 

When the papers have not been handed directly to the individual being served, the date and time of receipt cannot be definitively documented. The individual can claim they never received the papers. This can cause delays in the legal process. 

What Can Process Servers Not Do?

Process servers must take care to follow the law. While they can visit or wait at a residence or workplace, they cannot harass or stalk the individual they are seeking. 

Process servers cannot stop someone by force or physically compel them to accept the papers, either. 

Process servers cannot trespass or commit the crime of breaking or entering. They can visit a residence and knock or ring a doorbell, but they cannot trespass on the property. They also cannot enter a residence uninvited or force open a door or window. 

Finally, process servers cannot gain access through false pretenses. This means the process server cannot pretend to be someone they are not in order to gain access to the person they are serving. 

For example, a process server cannot pretend to be a delivery person to gain access to a workplace or claim to be law enforcement to deceive the individual into opening the door to their residence. 

Know the Law 

Given the delicate situation process servers can find themselves in, it’s important they are informed of the law so that they can follow it carefully. Failure to do so can lead to a failure of service. 

If legal papers are not served correctly, court proceedings can be delayed until the process has been followed correctly. 

Furthermore, process servers should protect themselves from charges and lawsuits by knowing and following both criminal and civil law. Failure to know and follow the law could result in charges including trespassing, stalking, access under false pretenses, and assault.