What You Need to Know if Court Papers are Served Incorrectly
Anytime a civil, or sometimes criminal, case is filed in Florida, the documents related to that case must be properly served to the named litigants and witnesses in the case to notify them of their mandatory upcoming appearance. This is not just a requirement of the state of Florida, but it is a guaranteed right provided in the U.S. Constitution. This notification gives the defendants and witnesses named in the case time to adequately prepare their defense and/or testimony. Without this notification, the legal process could not operate fairly for all parties involved.
But what if those court documents, known as process, are not delivered, or served, correctly? What implications could improper service of process have for your court case? In this post, we’ll explore the possible consequences of different improper service of process scenarios in Florida.
Served the Wrong Person
It is essential for the process server to confirm the identity of the person to which they are handing off the process documents. Defendants (and sometimes even witnesses) who do not want to proceed with a legal case may have another person claim to be them to receive the process, then later use this as grounds for having the case delayed since the process must be reserved. Verify a process recipient’s identity with a state-issued ID if possible. If that isn’t possible, using a verified photo of the individual along with contextual clues from the surroundings can also work. Never rely on a person’s word alone that they are the intended recipient of the process.
Lying About Service
This is a big one. If a process server is caught lying about serving a process recipient, the server can be barred from serving process in the state of Florida permanently, according to Florida Statutes Chapter 48.31. In addition, the defense could use the dishonestly as grounds to request that the entire case to be dismissed. At a minimum, the judge will order that the process be properly served to the named litigants and witnesses, causing delay and extra expense.
No Proof of Service
While it is not required to file proof of service with a court in Florida, and not filing proof of service does not affect the validity of the service, it is required for process servers to complete and maintain proof of service in their own records in case a judge requests it. If a judge requests proof of service and the process server cannot provide it, the process will have to be reserved, causing delay and expense.
Giving Legal Advice
Process servers are not allowed to provide legal advice to process recipients or customers under any circumstances. Giving legal advice is the job of attorneys and sometimes court employees, but a process server has no authority to do so. Giving legal advice can cause the service to be deemed invalid, which means the process will need to be reserved. If the server is caught giving legal advice multiple times, they may be disciplined by the county, judicial circuit, or even the state of Florida.
Breaking the Law During Service
A process server is never allowed to break the law while serving process, including trespassing, breaking & entering, larceny, communicating threats, assault, and battery. If a process server is caught violating the law in any way, they will be fully responsible for any resulting criminal or civil charges. In addition, the service will be deemed invalid, and the process must be reserved.
Trust Accurate Serve® for Valid Service of Process, Every Time
If you don’t want to worry about the process for your cases being served improperly, then make the call to Accurate Serve® of Plantation, Miami, West Palm Beach, and Key West at (954) 299-1552 or send us a work request online. Our servers know all the rules about the serving process here in Florida, so an incorrect service of process will never derail your case.