HOW STAKEOUTS AND SURVEILLANCE WORK IN PROCESS SERVICE

This article will provide guidance on How Stakeouts and Surveillance work in Process Service.  In truth, very few individuals actively seek out being served legal documents. The person may act rudely, arrogantly, hostilely, or abusively towards the process server. Such antics never assist their case in court, yet they continue to occur.

A process server often has to do a stakeout while searching for someone who is either hard to track down or dodging service. In order to serve legal papers to an evasive person, a process server may conduct a stakeout at the target’s home or place of business. 

Staking out a target’s location and waiting for them to arrive may be a tedious and time-consuming process. The server must always pay careful attention to their surroundings; otherwise, they may fail to see the customer they are meant to serve. Our process servers at Undisputed Legal act swiftly upon the individual’s arrival to authenticate their identification, intercept them, and deliver the legal paperwork. While it is often necessary for the process server to wait for hours for the recipient to accept the service, staking out finally is not a walk in the park, either.

Background

Any individual or entity named in a lawsuit must be served with legal documents. This is a process service.  A party cannot serve the papers personally if they are the one initiating the legal action. However, anybody above the age of eighteen may distribute the papers. Having someone or anything served with legal paperwork is how the court gains ‘jurisdiction’ over them.  Before a case can go ahead, the court has to be certain that the defendant(s), witnesses, and anybody else who should have received notice really did. This is a protection the judicial system provides to ensure that the accused or a witness will not be harmed in any way without being given a fair trial.

Since the courts will not tolerate poor service even if the individual accepting service does not know the law, it is strongly advised that parties hire a professional Process Server like those at Undisputed Legal to carry out service for you.  

When entering a new location, a seasoned process server like those at Undisputed Legal conducts an investigation similar to that of a police officer.  If the person being served poses any threat to the process server, the subject should be made aware of this so the process server may take appropriate precautions. Process Servers also deal with the highly charged emotional situations that arise while serving papers in a family law lawsuit.  This is sometimes a cause for alarm since family law papers are the most often disputed by the recipient of service.

A Proof of Service is a form required by the court after legal papers have been served on a defendant or a witness.  After completing the Proof of Service, submitting it to the court is mandatory. A Proof of Service includes the date and time of service, place where service was received, the defendant’s name, capacity (individual, business, etc.), and a description of the person receiving service.

Substitute service

Some legal papers, although not all, may be served by ‘substituted service’ under specific circumstances. A process server makes a substitute service when they serve legal documents on a person who is not named as a defendant in the case but has the same address or place of employment as the defendant.  

When looking for a process server or process serving company, choosing one with experience and training in the field is best.  Only someone with this knowledge will know what documents can and cannot be served by substituted service and the specific after-service requirements imposed by the courts. At Undisputed Legal, our team of experienced process servers makes sure to always be up to date on the nature of the documents served. Our team of international as well as local process servers ensures that we adhere to the legal requirements of all jurisdictions. 

In some instances, the server wrongly believes that the service of process is not effective until the papers are physically presented to them.  As a result, there is a chance that some defendants or witnesses may decline.  To be served, however, one needs to be within reasonable speaking distance of the server.  This implies that after a Process Server has confirmed correct identification, the papers are considered served even if the door is slammed in their face.

Is failure to serve still an option after a stakeout

There are a variety of reasons why the process server could have failed to deliver the required paperwork. A new address should be supplied if the previous one turned out to be incorrect.  (Undisputed Legal also provides skip-tracing services) If the target person is evading service, it may take several efforts and/or more extreme measures (such as a stakeout) to get the message over finally.  The good news is that nearly every one of Undisputed Legal’s service requests succeeds within the aforementioned boundaries and does not need further strategies.

A Stakeout occurs when a process server watches a person’s arrivals and departures from a house, place of business, or other frequented site in order to determine the best time to deliver legal papers to the subject. Depending on the client’s needs, this can run from an hour up to four hours.  Some stake-outs that included Undisputed Legal servers that lasted several days were the exception.   

The Defendant may be found in a number of ways. Skip tracing is one approach. In order to find the Defendant’s current residence, our investigators will punch in the Defendant’s name and last known address together with a third piece of information (such as the Defendant’s date of birth, Social Security number, or driver’s license number) into a database. There are a lot of variables to consider, including available funds.  As part of the stake-out service, a seasoned Process Server like those at Undisputed Legal will take note of the number and kind of vehicles present and any and all activity taking place on or near the subject property.

When someone is sued in civil or criminal court, process service is used to info about it. U.S. federal law mandates that persons be advised of their participation in a judicial action before it starts, while the specific requirements surrounding service of process techniques differ by state and nation. 

Why a Stakeout?

Personal service is most often preferred in certain states (depending on the minimum age required); the papers may be left with a member of the family instead if the intended recipient is not home. Substitute service is what is effected after this. If, even then, the individual dodges the service of papers, the following phase is often a stakeout.  During a stakeout, a process server waits in a predetermined area where the target party is expected to be. This is often their residence, but the process server may wait there if the person is reliable enough to keep to a certain schedule. 

If replacement service is unavailable, a stakeout was unsuccessful, or there is no other household member, it is only then that a plaintiff may seek alternative service by filing a petition. This may include publishing the notice in a court-ordered publication or mailing and posting it to the addressee.  Documents may be left with a member of the business or other authorized person if the recipient is a legal entity. 

Many misconceptions exist about what ‘counts’ as serving someone. Some people, for instance, insist that a document must make contact with its receiver in order for it to be considered ‘served.’ The opposite is true. As long as the process server has positively identified the receiver and informed them that they have legal papers, the documents are deemed served, regardless of whether or not the recipient handles or signs them.

A signed Affidavit of Service is provided by a process server to the attorney of record and then submitted to the court. The affidavit specifies who was served, where, and when. If the person who needs to be served cannot be found, the process server will offer an Affidavit of Due Diligence so the party may try again using another method.

Tips for process servers

Process servers must not forget to notify the client  that circumstances beyond their control might cause it to fail (for example, the subject not being present at the agreed-upon stakeout time.)  A stakeout typically lasts a set number of hours, but this does not mean the process server will not be compensated if they get done early! Some process servers may charge for travel time to and from the stakeout location.

Furthermore, it is imperative to remember that in almost every US state, process servers are not allowed to trespass on private property to deliver legal documents. Innocent as they may seem, such intrusions are deemed unlawful and illegal, and violators may face consequences. It has become more difficult for process servers to get entry to gated communities and apartment complexes, yet most such structures are still legally compelled to do so. This may be overcome, however, if the process server is an employee of a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over service of process, such as the United States Marshals Service, a county sheriff’s office, or another similar agency.

The customer, not the stakeholder, decides how long a stakeout should last.  Thus, the pay will reflect the time and effort the servers put in rather than the outcomes they achieve. It is impossible to guarantee that the issue will be there throughout the time the process server is on the stakeout. Consequently, it is imperative for the client also to acknowledge that they have read and accepted the proposed pricing. At Undisputed Legal, stakeouts range from USD 325 to USD 425 depending on the location, which includes one (1) hour waiting time. Subsequently, each additional hour can range from USD 100 to USD 150.

Research for a Stakeout

What will help a stakeout is getting complete information about the subject. The more complete a profile is of the individual, the easier it may be to conduct the surveillance. Pertinent information will include age, addresses and phone numbers, and marital status. 

In the age of social media, the very first place to conduct research on an individual would be social media. Performing a Google search is step zero, but effective searching is an important skill for conducting a stakeout. Further, examining the subject’s social media accounts (for clues as to their interests and hobbies, among other things) might provide process servers insight into their daily lives. A successful service requires the server to have prior information on the defendant, such as a description or image of the person, their residence, the make and model of their vehicle, etc. The service of process will also include some detective work to track out the defendant.

Once the person has been discovered, they may be stopped, checked, and served as necessary. It’s better to use specialists, even though many individuals may be able to serve legal paperwork properly. One reason a court can throw out your lawsuit is improper service of process.

In addition, a process server will never know when they will have to serve a sensitive topic that requires stakeout assistance. There are many rules and regulations that a Process Server must follow, and they might be difficult to keep straight.

We make good use of the resources available to us at Undisputed Legal. Process servers need to declare where they are and the reason for the stakeout to the authorities.  After the same, taking covert photos of the location is recommended to prove the process server’s presence there. Stakeout beginning and finishing timings may be recorded by holding a watch or other timepiece in front of a camera (a mobile phone works well for this) throughout the activity. We also recommend taking photos after physically handing over papers and other evidence of service. 

The papers must be served in accordance with the specific laws of the defendant’s location. This may seem easy at first, but the last step might be challenging. The legal system is convoluted for many reasons and may be especially challenging in specific circumstances. It may be difficult to track down certain defendants. It is also possible they’re trying to avoid being served purposefully. This is when the help of a stakeout service may be required.

The process server must adhere to all applicable laws and regulations when serving legal papers. We ensure proper service of process by conducting a stakeout and conducting surveillance. To keep our customers in the loop, we retain a detailed record of the service, which is critical for proving its legality in any subsequent court actions. The date, time, location, and recipient’s activities at the time of service may all be documented with the use of a stakeout and monitoring by the process server. 

Staking out a location and keeping an eye on it may cost some time and money at first, but it might end up saving you time and money in the long run. We aim to reduce the number of times service must be attempted by making sure the receiver is present and picking an appropriate time. If you have questions about Process Servers and the service itself? We’ve got answers at Undisputed Legal.

OUR PROCESS

Documents can be faxed at (800) 296-0115, emailed to ps@undisputedlegal.com, or uploaded to our website. We do require prepayment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist will receive all documents.  Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

DOMESTIC COVERAGE AREAS:

Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware| Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota | Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE AREAS:

Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados | Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile|China (Macao) | China People’s Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus| Czech Republic | Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland | Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg| Malawi | Malaysia | Malta| Mauritius | Mexico| MonacoMontenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands| New Zealand|Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland | Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania |Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands| UkraineUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam

OFFICE LOCATIONS

New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 300, Washington DC 20004

FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS

Pick up the phone and call Toll Free (800) 774-6922, or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your process service needs; no job is too small or too large!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide New York City service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A

Sources

1. ‘Process Server Assault Legislation by State.’ ServeNow.Com – Find Local Process Servers, www.serve-now.com/resources/process-server-assault-legislation-by-state#new-york. 

2. It is a serious crime to assault a Process Server while they are serving legal documents.

New York

Assaulting a process server is a felony. S2991 adds a section making obstructing a process server from performing their duties and intentionally retaliating shall be charged with a class D felony:

3. While certain regulations are being updated to account for electronic filing and the like, most evidence of services still has to be originals with the ‘wet signature’ of a Registered Process Server, although this is a highly specific designation mostly in California. If the original document is lost while being processed by the court, the party should have a second copy ‘conform stamped’ by the court as evidence of filing.

4. In addition, phone cards are always effective. 

5. The use of binoculars or cameras is likely to raise suspicions among curious neighbors

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The information contained herein has been prepared in compliance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act. Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works. The articles/Images contained herein serve as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, educational, and research-as examples of activities that qualify as fair use. Undisputed Legal Inc. is a Process Service Agency and “Not A Law Firm” therefore the articles/images contained herein are for educational purposes only, and not intended as legal advice.