Process service is the bread and butter of a lot of private investigation agencies throughout the United States. The court systems of each state revolve around having all parties in a case show up to court in a civil or criminal matter. The only way a court case can move forward to trial is to have process served on each party of the case. In other words, everyone involved in the case needs to be officially notified that they are to appear in court on a certain day. If one party doesn’t receive this notice, the whole case must be delayed. Or worst, it could be dismissed.

This is where the private investigator comes in. A private investigator has the tools and knowhow to get papers served on people involved in court cases. The Sherriff’s Department is really responsible for serving the papers, however they are so backlogged it could take months before they could attempt service. The private investigator can get papers served quickly and officially, because they can focus on one client at a time.

Most states allow private investigators to serve papers. Some states only require certain conditions be met before you can serve. You actually do not need a private investigation license to serve. Most states require the following:

  • Must be 18 years of age
  • Must not be a party in the case
  • Must not have a diminished mental capacity

In other word, a lot of states allow pretty much anyone to be a process server.

There are various types of service that can be performed on a subject. The most widely used and highly looked on way, is by means of personal service. Personal service is where the process server physically hands the papers to the person being served. This doesn’t sound hard, but most people do not want to be served, so they will run if they see you.

Personal service does not mean you have to actually touch the person. Simply placing the papers in visual range from the person is good enough to be called a successful serve in most cases.

Some states allow you to serve a “substituted service” on a person. A substitutive service is where you serve a close relative instead of the actual person. You should only serve spouses or parents, or your service could be thrown out.

You can also serve by publication. Serving by publication is where you post the service in the local newspaper. Do not over use this method. In fact, only use this method once every 1000 serves. It is deemed effective in most cases, but it is not a good practice to make a habit out of it.

Process service is a field every private investigator needs to be involved in. At an average of $50 per service, you could make a good living doing nothing but process service. Make sure you add this as one of your services.

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