Should I use a Sheriff or a Process Server to serve my legal documents?

Should I use a Sheriff or a Process Server to serve my legal documents? - Blog: Civil Processing & Legal Serving | Same Day Process Service - SDP_Woody

Let's begin the blog with a history lesson on process servers vs. public employees.
Over seventy years ago, Sheriffs, Marshalls, or Constables were the only persons authorized to serve legal documents, and today a few states still have similar restrictions. 

A common problem with those restrictions was that public servants often did nothing more than make several attempts before returning the document unserved. Defendants and witnesses knew how to avoid service, and there was no remedy. Too often, the legal documents expired, or they failed to submit their affidavit in time for the court hearing.

There was only one solution to those restrictions; attorney organizations pressed their legislators to pass laws allowing private citizens to serve legal documents. Hence, process serving became the standard method for serving legal papers because diligence was required and ingenuity expected.

Unlike public servants on a salary, process servers get paid for resolving a service.

You may not get your affidavit back in time for court!
We receive a considerable amount of work nationwide from clients who state that the Sheriff's department failed to deliver. Sadly, even when they do deliver, you may or may not get the proof you need within the timeline required by the courthouse. We of course go above and beyond to make certain this does not occur. 

Their Affidavits are pretty terrible
When it comes to the service of process, the affidavit is everything. There is a saying in our business,"Completing an Affidavit of Service on time and properly is just as important as serving the legal documents." This statement rings true, especially when it's time for court and the only thing you have is a verbal confirmation the documents were delivered. As a process serving company, not only do we complete affidavits of service promptly, but we also email you a copy to have while you are waiting for our physical copy to come through the mail. Plus, you will receive the service information right when the service is completed. We try our best to provide you updates in as “real time” as possible. 

Communication is non-existent.
When we hire a vendor out of state, we make sure they answer the phone first, just as we at Same Day Process always answer the phone. The good news for the Sheriff's department is they always answer their phone too, 24/7, but… will they have the answers you need? The nice thing about using a process server is having a personal touch. You can ask all those little pesky questions and check your status daily, and a process server, most of the time, is willing to oblige, but the Sheriff will, most of the time, give you a short response. Same Day Process Hours of operation is Monday through Friday 9 AM to 5:30 PM EST. Although our servers work 24/7 Nationwide. 

They do not take the time to write a proper Affidavit of Diligence for court.
Getting your documents served is essential, no question, but when we cannot serve your documents, the affidavit of due diligence is just as necessary. Some courts will grant "alternative service" to serve a subject. You can file a Motion, attach an Affidavit of Due Diligence, aka Affidavit of Non-Service, and request that the court offer you alternative service as an option. Alternative service could be a range of things, which you would need to speak with your court to verify their procedures.

Typically Judges will be looking for an affidavit from your process server, private investigator, or Sheriff proving you went above and beyond to try and serve a subject. A good process server will note everything in the affidavit, including: 

  • The Make, Model, and Tag numbers of vehicles owned by the subject present at the time of the attempt
  • Verification from a neighbor, mailman or leasing office that the subject is at the location being attempted
  • Skip Trace of last known address and what occurred at that location.
  • Proof of evasion. The subject spoke to me through the door and verified who they were but refused to open the door. Maybe they even said, "Good luck catching me!" 

All of the above is what a judge wants to see in an Affidavit of Due Diligence before considering alternative service. The issue with hiring a Sheriff is, the majority of the time you will get an affidavit that states, “no answer, no answer, no answer,” which proves absolutely nothing and will get you nowhere in a courtroom. We get a considerable amount of business subsequent to the Sheriff providing an affidavit with nothing to write home about. 

Technology is like watching Back to the Future.
Majority will require you to mail them the original documents, which you may have to wait to be returned in the mail if they fail to serve. Or, if you are lucky, they may allow you to fax the legal documents to them. Who still has a fax machine?! In extremely rare cases, they may email. Pre covid, 95% of every document we served was a legible copy scanned and emailed. Post covid, 99.99% of everything we receive is a scanned copy. You can easily send us a job via our Send Us A Job - Same Day Process Service button or via our email info@samedayprocess.com.

Reliability, Zero
Whether or not the Sheriff serves your legal documents, you may not get your affidavit of service in time for court. That is the number one issue with using a Sheriff. Avoid using them unless you have to, e.g., serving somebody in prison, and ONLY the Sheriff is allowed to enter and serve process at the prison. 

 ***Here at Same Day Process, we understand that The Sheriff’s Department has a lot on their plate as they are responsible for protecting our community. Serving legal documents for civil issues is often the least of their worries. As a process serving company, your service of process is our only worry. So, save your Sheriff the time of serving your legal documents and send them to www.samedayprocess.com.***

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