Extra Points To Note When Explaining What Is A Process Server

what is a process server

Process servers are a vital character in the state's court system. They are an interface between a court case and the people who need to show up to answer for it. Generally, people hire process servers to deliver legal documents from the court and retrieve them if the need arises. It bears mentioning that the position isn't the same as bailiffs, as the latter instead enforce court injunctions. 

Legal practitioners may find themselves explaining what is a process server to their clients at some point in their careers. However, process service is a broader concept than just serving court papers, and it’s essential to get the other crucial details like what a legal process server can or can't do. 

Also, knowing the exceptions, peculiarities, and limitations around process service could help an individual handle a court document more effectively. We'll show you some of the added points you can expect to hear from someone who's explaining what is a process server. 

Process Servers Can Only Serve Papers 

Process servers mainly deliver court papers and reports to the appropriate individuals. Typically, the documents get given by hand at the concerned parties' homes or work. Process servers enable you to become aware of a court complaint against you or any other related notice to which you'd need to attend. 

Several laws dictate a process server's operations in the States, and they differ between each locality. For instance, some jurisdictions allow for a much wider access area for the court paper server to reach the defendant, while others might be more restrictive. 

Process Servers Can't Force You On Anything 

Process servers may not take an executory role to the defendant by delivering court reports and documents. That means that they may not force their way into your home or property in a bid to serve you court papers. Instead, they could come back at another time when you might be available. 

What if you're home but don't want to answer the door to a process server? They should still have to come back at another time when you'd be in the right frame to receive them. Generally, legal consultants explaining what is a process server would point out that defendants are likely expecting a court visit from the court anyways. Then, they may decide not to let their process server in first. 

However, you must understand that intentionally deferring process servers can be a bad idea. Defendants sometimes think that not answering the door for a process server could make the court case go away. 

That won't happen, and you could make matters worse by delaying the necessary actions you need to take on the issue. 

process server legal serving papers

Methods Process Servers Can Use To Get To You 

Since all they have to do is deliver court documents, process servers may sometimes develop innovative ways to get to defendants. Some of the ways they can use include: 

Stakeout: Process Servers realize that they can only hand over court documents to you first-hand. As a result, they may have to come back at another time if you're not home, at work, or generally not available. 

However, a process server can use the stakeout technique to get to defendants, especially those notoriously unavailable. It involves waiting around the person's home or office long enough to show up eventually. Then, they get served the papers. Stakeouts can also happen at workplaces and family houses, as the process server sees fit. 

It's worth mentioning that stakeouts have to be within the process servers rules and privacy laws in the defendant's jurisdiction. That means that process servers can't stake out if it infringes your privacy or counts as stalking. Also, they may not pretend to be law enforcement agents or the police to serve you court papers. 

Serving By Mail 

Process Servers can also resort to delivering court documents by mail instead of showing up at your house in person. However, stipulations can encourage or discourage this technique depending on where the defendant lives. 

For instance, California law doesn't permit process servers to send reports by mail unless it's a special court order service. Elsewhere, the rules are much looser, and you can receive court documents by mail from a process server. 

The Over-18 Rule 

In situations where the defendant makes it difficult for the process server to deliver the court papers, the over-18 rule can come into the picture. The law allows the server to leave the court files and reports with another occupant of the defendant's home or office, provided that they are above 18 years. 

Process Servers can hand over the documents to other members of your household on your behalf if they're over 18. The same applies to the coworkers in your workplace. However, it's essential to check if the document allows for the over-18 rule by default. A process server may also not deliver the papers by proxy unless it has the special court order signature from a judge. 

Other Points to Note About Process Servers 

If defendants have been too challenging to reach concerning their court papers, process servers can file an affidavit saying they couldn't complete the service. Then the court serves the defendant by public notice: publishing the service in print media or placing an ad on TV. At that point, it would be on record that the defendant has gotten served, and the service processor's legal duties can continue elsewhere. 

People may try to avoid their process servers in a bid to delay their court proceedings. While that might work for a short period, the court would not allow it for long and take action against them. 


Process servers help the court teach out to defendants who need to know of the proceedings they have. However, it's not enough to know what a process server does, and legal practitioners would be quick to make you realize that when explaining what is a process server. 

We've highlighted some details on the things process servers may or may not do while on their jobs. Also, the information could help you make better decisions as a defendant and avoid erring against the law through process service.

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