Process servers hold a very important position in the legal system, as they uphold the rights of individuals to receive notice about their involvement in a court case – including any action that is being taken against them.
They uphold this right by hand delivering the necessary documents to either the defendant, an agent of the defendant or conducting a substituted service. This type of service is hard to refute and when done according to regulation it remains admissible in court.
Understanding Service of Process
Service of process in NYC is a legal procedure in the United States that involves the hand-delivery of legal documents to the person required to respond to them. These documents could be summons, complaints, writs, subpoenas, or other types of legal papers.
Anyone 18 years or older can serve process, so long as they are not involved with either party in the case. However, many people, including individuals, lawyers, and business owners, opt to hire a process server to ensure the timely and accurate delivery of legal documents.
After serving the documents, the process server must record the “date of service” or the date the documents were successfully delivered. This will determine the deadline required to file a response in court.
Typically, a defendant is given 20 calendar days (excluding the date of service) to respond. However, this window could be smaller depending on your case. Be sure to double-check what is enclosed in the service notice.
What Does A Process Server Do?
A process server has a number of responsibilities, but their primary duty is to serve legal documents (subpoenas, writs, summons and complaints) to defendants and recipients, and then file a notarized proof of service (affidavit of service) for the documents they’ve delivered.
The other duties many process servers will perform will include:
Document retrieval: Retrieving legal documents from a court in their region.
Skip Tracing: Finding defendants/ individuals whose location is unknown.
Filing Papers: Filing papers with the court on behalf of firms or attorneys.
They may conduct other legal support services in addition to the ones mentioned above.
Who Can Become A Process Server?
Being a process server isn’t as easy as driving around and knocking on doors. Many times, the work requires dealing with defiant defendants who do not want to accept the legal documents. This is why having expertise and insight is crucial, as an experienced and knowledgeable process server can serve papers effectively regardless of the mitigating circumstances.
This usually requires developing a tactful approach to serving papers, but an approach that remains within the confines of the law. In New York City in order for service of process to be effective a process server has to be licensed and continue to follow a strict code of conduct to maintain this license and maintain the validity of each serve.
Why Process Servers Are A Popular Choice For The Service of Process
Although it’s become popular to hand deliver legal documents this hasn’t always been the case. There was a time when defendants were still being served by registered and certified mail. However, since many defendants, and recipients claimed to have never received their summons or subpoena in the mail, and there wasn’t any way to definitively prove they had, this fool-proof method became the preferred method to firms and individuals across the country.
Since there are also more rules that regulate the industry in New York City and other cities and states, it has become very difficult for any defendant to circumvent the process and make claims that they hadn’t been served.
Apart from ensuring that the defendant receives the papers, process servers in NYC provide other benefits, many of which highlight convenience.
One, the total cost is lower with process servers. Sheriffs typically charge additional fees for every location where they attempt a service. Second, you get more control over the service and get a faster process. You’ll also need to follow a set of guidelines if you want a sheriff to serve your documents, which means some period of waiting. Process servers can do a service in a matter of days or hours upon receiving the documents.
How to Choose a Process Server
While there is no shortage of process servers in NYC, it’s essential to choose one that can provide you with reliable and efficient services. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a process server:
- Service Speed: Avoid court delays by choosing process servers who can successfully serve the documents within a 5 to 7-day time frame. For urgent cases, they should also have the option for same-day or next-day deliveries.
- Methods for Updating: Stay in the loop by enlisting a server you can contact easily and who provides you with real-time updates through methods like GPS tracking and email/text notifications.
- Service Method: Process serving can be challenging, especially when a respondent is evasive. In this type of situation, process servers must find resourceful ways to serve the legal documents. For instance, they should be able to find a qualified substitute who can receive the documents on the defendant’s behalf.
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