Serving a civil summons and complaint in New York City (NYC) follows specific rules and procedures to ensure that the legal documents are properly delivered to the defendant. Here’s a general overview of the process:
1. Determine the Method of Service: In NYC, there are several methods of service available, including personal service, substituted service, and service by mail with acknowledgment of receipt. The method chosen will depend on the circumstances of the case and the court’s requirements. Personal service is generally preferred as it ensures direct delivery to the defendant.
2. Hire a Process Server: To ensure compliance with legal requirements and to maintain impartiality, it is recommended to hire a professional process server or a licensed private investigator to serve the documents. In NYC, process servers must be at least 18 years old and not involved in the case.
3. Provide the Necessary Documents: Furnish the process server with the original summons, complaint, and any additional documents required by the court. It’s crucial to provide accurate and complete information to avoid any potential issues.
4. Conduct Due Diligence: Before attempting service, the process server will conduct due diligence to determine the defendant’s current address and whereabouts. They may consult public records, engage in skip tracing, or use other permissible methods to locate the defendant. Accurate information is crucial to ensure successful service.
5. Personal Service: Personal service involves physically delivering the summons and complaint to the defendant. The process server will make direct contact with the defendant and provide them with the documents. It’s important to note that the process server cannot serve the documents if the defendant refuses to accept them. In such cases, the process server may need to resort to alternative methods.
6. Substituted Service: If personal service is unsuccessful, the court may allow substituted service. This involves serving the documents to another adult at the defendant’s residence or workplace, followed by mailing a copy to the defendant’s last known address. The substitute recipient must be someone of suitable age and discretion, and the process server must document their identity and relationship to the defendant.
7. Service by Mail with Acknowledgment of Receipt: In some cases, the court may permit service by mail. The process server will send the summons and complaint via certified mail, return receipt requested, to the defendant’s last known address. If the defendant signs the receipt, acknowledging the delivery, it serves as proof of service. If the defendant refuses to sign or accept the mail, alternative methods may be necessary.
8. Affidavit of Service: After completing service, the process server will prepare an Affidavit of Service, also known as a Proof of Service. This document details the date, time, location, and method of service. It is then filed with the court as evidence that proper service has been made.
9. Record-Keeping: It is essential to maintain copies of all documents, including the summons, complaint, and Affidavit of Service, for your records. These documents may be required throughout the legal proceedings.