Service of process is a legal term used to refer to the official delivery of legal documents to a defendant or witness in a court case or other proceeding. Texas legal process servers offer reliable delivery services for all types of court documents, including the following:
- Service of citation notices that let individuals know that a case has been filed in court
- Writs from court officials
- Complaints and citations related to lawsuits and tort claims
- Summonses to appear
- Restraining orders
- Child support and divorce documents
- Notices of eviction
Understanding the laws pertaining to process of service can ensure that these necessary activities are handled promptly and in accordance with all legal requirements.
Texas Laws Regarding Process Service
Service of process in Texas can be accomplished in a number of different ways that include the following:
- Mail delivery, especially for documents that are expected by the recipient
- Direct hand delivery of items from the process server to the target individual, who may be unwilling to accept these documents
- Publication of service documents in local newspapers for people who cannot be located after a reasonable time and an extensive search
Mail service of process requires that the individual served sign a return receipt to prove delivery; as a result, it is not suitable for documents that the recipient may not wish to accept. Additionally, courts may require evidence of any search efforts made prior to opting for service by publication to ensure that this step was necessary.
Duties of Process Servers
Along with delivering documents to individuals at home or work, Houston process servers may also be called upon to perform investigative tasks to determine the whereabouts of defendants and witnesses in court cases. Other duties may include some or all of the following:
- Filing court papers and retrieving receipts for these document deliveries
- Document retrieval as part of ongoing Houston litigation support services
- Creating and delivering reports of tasks accomplished and information retrieved
- Skip tracing, which involves the use of Internet and print resources to track down individuals in Texas and across the United States
- Courier services for law firms, courts and other legal agencies
Keeping accurate records of all documents served is critical to ensure that court cases can proceed in a timely manner.
Becoming a Texas Process Server
Performing service of process in Texas requires an understanding of the laws that govern these activities. Texas requires that process servers go through three steps to qualify for these positions:
- Prospective process servers must complete a civil process education course approved by the Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission (TJBCC).
- An Application for Certification must be filed with the TJBCC by mail or by fax. A certification fee is also assessed at this time.
- Applicants must also undergo a criminal history background check of databases maintained by both the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Electronic fingerprinting will also be conducted in association with these database searches.
Texas process server certifications expire three years after issuance and must be renewed prior to the expiration date to avoid late renewal fees. Beginning in 2014, some process servers may be required to complete 12 hours of continuing education to maintain their eligibility for certification in the Lone Star State.
In most cases, working with a company that specializes in process service and litigation support for attorneys can ensure the most positive and timely results. By enlisting the help of trained professionals with experience in skip tracing, service of process and other filing and retrieval duties, Houston law firms can provide faster and more effective services for their clients to ensure the best possible outcomes in the modern legal arena.