What Exactly Can a Process Server Do to Serve Papers?

If a lawsuit is filed in San Diego, the court may use a process server to hand deliver notices to all parties involved. The process server’s job is to make sure all parties are notified of pending court actions in a timely manner. 

There are things process servers can and cannot do, and there are many myths surrounding them. In this guide, we’ll separate fact from fiction.

What is a Process Server?

A process server is simply someone who delivers official court documents to another person. The delivery can be made by hand, by mail, or by publication. 

In San Diego, anyone can be a process server as long as they’re 18 years of age or older and they’re not involved in the lawsuit. A friend or family member can be the process server, if desired, as long as they follow the laws of the state.

Professional process servers are individuals or corporations who earn money from serving official court documents. Anyone who serves paperwork 10 times or more each year must register as a professional process server

What Can a Process Server Do to Serve Papers?

A process server is allowed to visit your home, come to your place of employment, or arrange to cross paths with you in public places. 

If a person frequently visits a coffee shop each morning on the way to work, for instance, the process server can be there to hand the papers over to them while they’re waiting for their coffee. These types of actions are allowed as long as they do not cross the line into stalking or harassment.

If a process server is unable to hand papers over to someone directly, they are allowed to send them in the mail instead. 

In San Diego, when the server must resort to mailing the papers, the court considers those documents to be served ten days after they were mailed. 

In some cases, a process server is allowed to leave the paperwork with a different person, as long as that person is over the age of 18. If the process server is unable to catch the person at home, the server is allowed to leave the papers with another adult in the home.

What Is a Process Server Prohibited from Doing?

Process servers are not allowed to do anything illegal to serve papers. Going through the mail in your mailbox, for instance, could be a federal offense.

Process servers are also not allowed to lie about who they are. They can’t pretend to be law enforcement or be deceitful about what they’re doing.

They’re also not allowed to trespass on private property. If they try to intercept you at work, they may be restricted to waiting outside your place of business. 

Along these same lines, they are not allowed to break in to complete the serving process. Breaking and entering is illegal, regardless of the reason why a person may be doing it.

Process servers cannot force you to take paperwork from them. However, they do not have to physically hand the paperwork to you, either. A process server can simply announce that you have been served and drop the papers onto a table in front of you.

Avoidance Does Not Work

Despite what you see in the movies, avoiding a process server will not exempt you from a lawsuit. Whether you’re being served because your dog bit someone or because you were the at-fault party in a car accident, you cannot avoid the lawsuit by staying out of reach for papers to be served.