What Exactly Can a Process Server Do To Serve Papers?

If you file a lawsuit or are the subject of one, legal process is an important concept for you to understand. Defendants have a right to know if legal action has been taken against them. There are certain rules that must be followed when providing this notification. 

Your lawyer can explain service of process and how it might affect your personal injury case.

What Is a Process Server?

Process servers are those with the legal authority to personally serve people with legal papers and notice of a pending court case that involves them. Under Florida law, the sheriff has the right to establish a list of people who are “special process servers” who must be certified and reappointed each year to maintain this legal authority. 

The requirements to be a special process server in Florida are that they:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have no mental or legal disability
  • Are a permanent resident of Florida
  • Submit and pass a background check
  • Obtain and file a certificate of good conduct they provide along with their application that states they are not subject to a pending criminal case, have no record of a felony conviction, and have no record of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or dishonesty within the past five years
  • Submit to an examination regarding their knowledge of relevant laws and rules
  • Take an oath that they will honestly, faithfully, and diligently exercise the duties required of them

Process servers are disinterested, meaning that they are not a party to the case or otherwise affected by its outcome. Process servers may serve various legal documents, such as a complaint, subpoena, or summons.

What Is a Process Server Allowed To Do in Florida?

A process server in Florida is generally responsible for completing personal service in a case. This occurs when the process server hand-delivers court documents to the person. 

A process server must follow various rules when completing their duties, such as:

Getting Permission To Serve the Person At Work

Process servers usually serve legal papers at a person’s home or a place in public. They can serve documents on people at work, but they must contact their employer first and inform them of their plan to do so. The employer must then provide a private area where the employee can receive service at work.

Serving a Spouse

The process server can serve process on the spouse of the intended party if the spouse is a party to the case or the spouse requests it, and the spouses live together. This rule does not apply if the spouses are opposing parties, such as in a child custody or divorce case. 

Serving a Person At a Business

Suppose a business owner is supposed to be served, and the process server made two previous attempts to serve them during regular business hours, but they have failed. In that case, the process server can leave the paperwork with a person in charge at the business. 

Florida allows substituted service in which the process server can serve the papers on someone other than the intended target. The process server can leave the documents with someone aged 15 or older who lives at the same residence if the person is not home. 

Informing the Court

The process server is also responsible for updating the court about service. They must provide an affidavit to the court stating that service was made (or not).

What Time Can a Process Server Deliver Papers? 

Florida law requires all corporations in the state to have a registered office that is open from 10 a.m. to noon each day except for weekends and holidays. Process servers can serve documents at this time to the registered agent. 

Process servers are not allowed to serve legal papers on Sunday. If they do, any resulting judgment or legal outcome is void, and the process server can be responsible for damages

What Is a Process Server Not Allowed To Do in Florida?

Process servers are not allowed to take certain actions in effectuating their legal duties, such as:

  • Committing crimes
  • Breaking and entering
  • Using force
  • Threatening the person to be served
  • Engaging in harassing behaviors
  • Lying about their identities or their jobs
  • Misrepresenting themselves as someone else
  • Engaging in deceptive practices

If you have any questions about the legal process, contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm – Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

Contact a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer at Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys and schedule a free case review today.

Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

700 7th Ave N Suite B
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 933-0015