What is Sheriff Service?
The Sheriff or Constable in the county where the defendant resides is one of those individuals who can perform the service of process for you. Service of process is to give the defendant proper notice of the Court's proceedings. This is typically done by having an individual who is not a party to the case physically hand the defendant a copy of the paperwork.
Why Use Sheriff Service?
While typically slower in turnaround time compared to a private process server, Sheriff Service can be an excellent alternative service method. Sheriffs can enter certain properties, such as gated communities or secured buildings, that private process servers, who are not law enforcement, may not be able to access. Furthermore, a defendant may be less likely to ignore or evade a Sheriff attempting to serve them at their home.
How to Request Sheriff Service
Requesting Sheriff Service can be done in three steps:
Step 1. Research Cost and Availability
The fees and services offered for Sheriff Service can vary from courthouse to courthouse. Fees for Sheriff Service are typically lower than private process servers but can range from $30 - $200. Service levels vary from one attempt to multiple attempts with complimentary skip traces. The best way to start Sheriff Service is to call or visit your courthouse directly to inquire what Sheriff Services are offered and what their fees are.
Step 2. Request Sheriff Service
Sheriff Service can either be requested during your initial filing or after your paperwork has been approved. You can start by contacting the court, preferably by phone, and requesting Sheriff Service. Courts may accept payment over the phone, via the internet, or ask you to pay in-person. If you haven't already, this would be a great time to call the court clerk and ask what services are included in a Sheriff's Service purchase.
Step 3. Monitor and Follow Up
After Sheriff Service has been requested and initiated, nothing is left to do but wait until their attempts are complete. The County Sheriff or Constable should begin attempts immediately. The best way to track your case's progress is by checking your case docket or calling the Court directly for updates.
If they are successful, the Sheriff will return your case's summons or citation to the Court, and it will be filed without any action needed from you.
If service is unsuccessful, the Sheriff will typically return the service documents, with an Affidavit of Non-Service, to you. Although the Court will usually automatically file your paperwork no matter the outcome, it's important to follow up with the Court as soon as service is complete. If an Affidavit of Non-Service is filed and no further actions are taken, the Court may postpone or even dismiss your case.
After Sheriff Service is completed successfully, all you have to do is prepare for your hearing date!