How Many Attempts Will a Process Server Make in Contra Costa County?

The legal process can be excruciatingly convoluted. In the US, a crucial aspect of this process involves “being served”—the colloquial expression to mean having official, legal documents delivered to you in person. In theory, anyone over the age of 18 can do this. Most people try to avoid getting served for apparent reasons. This means that you need a dependable professional agency like  D&R Legal Process Service in Contra Costa County specializing in the proper and timely delivery of critical legal documents. When there is a need, you can count on such professionals to get the job done, ensuring that you don’t risk getting your case thrown out of court because of something as trivial as failure to deliver a court order.

Who is a Process Server?

A process server is anyone that delivers legal documents to a party in a lawsuit or other legal proceeding. Usually, a process server is a sheriff or his deputy. However, any law enforcement official or someone designated by the courts can act as a process server. The process server’s job is to ensure that the involved party receives the legal document on time.

In such cases, a court of law has no jurisdiction over any individual until such an individual has been adequately served with a legal document summoning them to appear before the said court.

No Limits on Service Attempts

In theory, a process server can make as many attempts as possible to ensure the defendant or concerned party receives the necessary legal document. The delivery of such documents is easier said than done. Process servers have the unenviable task of finding people who usually don’t want to be found. With most people being busy with their lives, it can become challenging to locate specific individuals. If such individuals know of a possible court summon, they may actively try to avoid any attempts by the courts to contact them. This makes the job of process servers more difficult.

On average, a process server can try to serve a legal document three times. This is usually done on three separate occasions at different times of the day to ensure the best chance of finding such individuals. Some jurisdictions may have specific guidelines for how this delivery should be carried out, but it’s usually the same.

These guidelines may vary from state to state or even within the same state. For example, a judge in one county may require process servers to make at least five attempts before giving up, while another in a neighboring county may require only three. 

Professional process servers will make every effort to ensure that your legal documents are delivered to the involved party promptly. This, of course, depends on several other factors. For example, if the deadline for a court notice is less than five days, it becomes difficult for the process server to attempt numerous deliveries even if they want to.

When a Process Server Makes Only One Attempt

Sometimes, a process server stops trying to deliver the legal notice after the first attempt. This may not be due to laziness but extenuating circumstances. Say a judge issues a subpoena for an individual to appear before the court. If the court has a wrong address for the involved party, the process server will stop delivering the notice after the first try. There were instances when the party involved changed residence. It becomes challenging for the process server to locate such individuals. In such a case, they stop trying after the first attempt because it makes no sense to keep coming back to the same address if they’ve been told otherwise by neighbors or any occupants of such a house.

Methods of Service

As mentioned, process servers will make every attempt to deliver legal documents in person. This is the best-case scenario, ensuring that the involved party cannot deny receiving the documents. Sometimes this scenario may not be feasible. If the involved party has other individuals living with them, delivery of the summon or subpoena to those he resides can also be considered a successful process service. The person to whom the subpoena is to be handed must be of an appropriate age and sound mind. For example, a ten-year-old may not fully comprehend the importance of a court document. Hence leaving a subpoena to give to the involved party does not count as a successful delivery. Similarly, an adult with a known history of mental issues doesn’t qualify to receive such documents.

Service By Mail or Tacking at Last Known Address

When finding a defendant becomes very difficult, process servers can mail legal documents. Certified mail is usually best because a return receipt can be issued. A process server can send a second copy of the document through regular mail. If the regular mail is not sent back as undelivered, the involved party is considered served.

Tacking the document on a person’s front door is also an option, though not as effective. A copy of the warrant or subpoena can be taped to the front door of their last known address. However, this should be a last resort. The involved party can permanently deny receiving the subpoena or warrant, claiming that someone else ripped it off the door and ran with it.

After successfully delivering a legal document, a process server will certify, under oath, that they have ensured that the involved party has received the documents within the set timeframe. This process is known as the Return of Service.

Failure to successfully deliver a subpoena or a court order means the involved party is under no obligation to do anything. Regardless of how attempts a process server makes, successful delivery is the only way an involved party will be legally obligated to accede to the court’s orders.

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