Understanding Process Serving System in Texas: How Are Papers Served In Texas?

When a person decides to file a complaint on someone, they are required to let the other party know

When a person chooses to take legal action against another, they’re required by law to inform the other party immediately. Every state has distinct rules and regulations that govern this process.

There are many rules and requirements for serving legal papers on a party. A process server knows the rules and requirements for delivering legal documents correctly under the law. So, how are papers served in Texas?

Process servers deliver various documents in a legal action. They may serve documents on witnesses, defendants, plaintiffs, and other parties to the action. Examples of legal documents that a process server might deliver to a party include, but are not limited to:

  • Summons
  • Complaint
  • Subpoena
  • Court Order

Texas requires process servers to be certified. The state has established a Code of Ethics that all certified process servers must follow.

Process Server Code Of Ethics

How are papers served in Texas?

The state of Texas takes serving legal documents very seriously. That’s why all involved must consult and understand the Code of Ethics.

The Code of Ethics highlights the significance of professionalism and treating every individual they serve with papers with respect. While this can be hard if an individual tries to avoid service, a process server must do so.

Another value stated in the Code of Ethics is honesty. The Code requires the process servers to be truthful in all matters related to serving papers, such as returning documentation to the JBCC that papers were delivered successfully.

The Code of Ethics goes beyond honesty and includes language to ensure that process servers do not conduct their business in a way that exaggerates their authority. This rule particularly applies to process servers who also work in law enforcement. Because it’s common for police officers to work as process servers, the Code explicitly notes that a server mustn’t wear a badge while serving papers.

How Are Papers Served in Texas?

Process servers can take many actions to serve papers. In most cases, the process server knocks on the person’s door, confirms the person’s identity, and hands the person the document. After serving the document, the process server completes an affidavit of service (return of citation) to file with the court.

The process server can also serve the papers to you at your employment or to someone authorized to accept legal documents. There are no time restrictions on when a process server can attempt service, but the service of legal documents is not permitted on Sundays.

Many believe they have not been legally served if they do not “touch” the papers. However, once the process server establishes your identity, he can drop the papers at your fee and tell you that you have been served. If you are in your vehicle, the process server can place the papers on your windshield if you refuse to leave the vehicle.

Avoiding a process server does not mean you cannot be sued. The victim can petition the court to serve the defendant through publication or alternate methods. Avoiding service is only delaying what will eventually happen.

Process Servers And The Secretary Of State

Under Texas law, the Secretary of State can also act as a process agent. This means that if one party cannot locate the other party they’re bringing suit against, they can serve the Secretary of State in their stead.

The Secretary of State also has a role to play in processing papers.

This alternative, however, is often only permitted in relatively narrow circumstances regarding suits brought against corporations and foreign entities. Most individuals, those handling lawsuits between other individuals or serving divorce papers, will work with a certified process server, like us at Central Texas Litigation. The process server must follow the Code of Ethics outlined above.

Are There Things That Process Servers Cannot Do?

Yes, there are limits to what a process server may do to serve legal documents to a person. Some of the things that a process server isn’t allowed to do while serving documents include:

  • Breaking a home or business to serve papers
  • Threatening or forcing a person to open the door or exit a vehicle
  • Pretend to be an officer of the court or a law enforcement officer
  • A process server cannot trespass on property to serve papers
Process Servers also have limitations and boundaries that they cannot step over

Process servers must abide by all rules and laws regarding the service of legal documents. Violating these laws could cause problems with the case. For example, a judge could dismiss a lawsuit if services were not legally made.

If a process server breaks the laws while attempting to serve papers, the process server could face criminal charges and penalties related to the crime.

Do You Have To Be Served To Be Sued In Texas?

If you’ve been sued in Texas, you must be properly served with the lawsuit. The reason for this is for the plaintiff to let you know that you have been sued. Service is accomplished once you receive the petition and citation by hand delivery or another authorized means.

You are not required to sign the papers, but process servers might ask you to do this.

Typically, the process server will only ask if you are (insert name of defendant), and if you answer yes, they’ll usually hand you the documents. They should inform you it is a lawsuit and you are being served. The server will then complete a “return of citation” and swear they handed you the documents. The return of the citation will be filed with the court.

Who Arranges For The Service Of A Lawsuit?

Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically Rule 106, govern how service of process is managed within the state. It allows for personal, registered, or certified mail service.

If the court provides otherwise, documents must be given by delivering them to the defendant in person, including a copy of the citation that displays the petition and delivery date. Mailing to the defendant is permissible by certified or registered mail with the requested return receipt and a copy of the petition or the citation.

If both options have been tried without success, then court approval for another approach to service is required. The court might then authorize service of process by leaving a copy of the petition and of the citation with anyone above 16 at the defendant’s place or in any other manner, such as electronically by email, social media, or other technology that would be reasonably effective to deliver the defendant notice of the suit.

The right Texas process server will understand how to navigate these nuances and any local regulations to minimize delays.

Choose A Process Server in Texas Who Understands How To Pivot When Needed

When you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your injury claim, your lawyer prepares and files the lawsuit

When you hire an attorney to handle your case, your lawyer prepares and files the lawsuit with the court and arranges to file the complaint against every defendant in the lawsuit. The attorney may choose to use a professional process server, like us at Central Texas Litigation, to deliver the documents.

The service method depends on the document being served and the parties involved. Nevertheless, you do not need to worry about your lawsuit process service. That is part of the service provided to you by your lawyer. His job is to take all reasonable measures to ensure that documents are served according to state law to avoid problems with your case.

When working with us at Central Texas Litigation, our reliable process servers are trained and skilled to tackle even the toughest process-serving scenarios. We take great pride in our top-notch process service, and you can rest assured that we go above and beyond to complete the job that you need us to do.

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