Process Service : What is Process Service and should I hire someone to serve my legal documents?

Process Service is a procedure for serving legal documents to a person or an entity such as a business. There are a wide array of legal documents that served on people. Some of the more common documents include Criminal subpoenas, Civil subpoenas, Summons, Divorce and Child Custody documents, and subpoenas requesting documents from a company, just to name a few.

There are legal requirements surrounding the proper way legal documents are served and filed through the court system. It is important that these requirements are followed properly so that when the case goes to court there are no delays caused by improper service. You could also incur more fees due to these delays.

In Idaho these procedures are found in the Idaho Code of Civil Procedure. Listed below are some of the procedures:

  • No license required for Process Server
  • Must be 18 years or older and not a party to the action
  • Summons/Complaint must be served within 6 months of filing
  • Person executing process need not have original document when serving
  • Service may be accomplished by direct service to the individual or to a person over the age of 18 residing with the individual
  • Serving process to a corporation may be accomplished by delivering a copy to the authorized agent of the corporation. 
  • Proof of service shall be files with the court of jurisdiction and must include the name of the Process Server, manner of service, and the date and place of service. 

For a full description of the Process Server procedures in Idaho see the Idaho code of Civil Procedure

So you may be asking yourself should I hire a Process Server to serve my legal documents? The quick, but not so clear answer, is maybe. If you have legal documents to serve to someone that is cooperate, easy to locate, and is not avoiding service, then you may be able to have a willing friend do it for you. Then you will have to follow proper court procedures to file the proof of service. This can save you time and money if all goes well.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Process Service cases involves people that don’t necessarily want to be served or found, or they are of questionable character and you wouldn’t feel comfortable having someone you know or that isn’t trained approaching them. This is where you should hire a professional to do the job. Most Process Servers charge $75 to $100 to serve documents and will usually include several attempts. Some also charge time and mileage depending on the company. If the service requires a Process Server to “locate” a person and then attempt service, additional fees will be charged.

My best recommendation to a client is to hire a professional Process Server, if there is any doubt that the person will be uncooperative, difficult to locate, or potentially confrontational.

SKIP TRACING – How difficult is it to find someone?

(8 tips to locating someone)

The not so easy answer is; it depends. Skip tracing is a general term referring to process of locating (tracing) a person (the skip).

There is a wide variety of reasons for wanting to locate a person. It could be to locate a long lost relative or a biological parent, an old friend that you knew in high school, an estranged  spouse that needs to be served legal documents, an old military buddy, a runaway juvenile, or even a parental child abduction.

Depending on the type of case, I always recommend doing your own due diligence before contacting a Private Investigator. Of course if there is a crime involved, in the case of a child abduction, or any other missing person with suspicious circumstances, always notify law enforcement first.

Doing your own research can be a daunting task, but I have created a list of free/low fee public sources to start your search. Most licensed Private Investigators have access to a proprietary database that compile the most current data on individuals. The non-investigator will not have access to these databases. However, there are websites such as Spokeo or Beenverified that can be useful for obtaining basic background information on a person, their relatives, and places they have lived. However, it has been my experience that some data profiles are not always the most current, but it’s a starting point. I’ve listed (not in any specific order) what I have determined to be a good starting point to locate a person for the non-investigator. There are other resources available, but my best advice is to think “out of the box”. Happy hunting!

  1. Access Spokeo, Been verified, or any other database websites to obtain basic information on the individual (address, phone numbers, relatives)  Run relatives or other persons associated with the individual for new addresses/phone numbers. They may be living with relatives now. Hint: try . This website will sometimes amaze you as to what information it contains. 
  2. Search all social media websites using the person’s name, maiden name, or other names they may use. I would start with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linked, as they are the most common. Depending how their privacy settings configured, this will dictate what information you are able to access. Many individuals are very active on social media and may create posts with their location, if your lucky. If you are unable to access a person’s Facebook, you may be able to discover a “friend” of the individual that has no privacy settings in place. This might give you additional access to search for associates of your individual.
  3. If you have identified any addresses/cities/counties on your subject, access the local court records. Most state and counties have websites that allow you to search using a name, and this may reveal and civil or criminal cases your subject may have been involved in in the past or any current cases they have coming up. In addition, it will list any other parties associated with the case which you may be able to track down.
  4. Contacting prior residences may also be beneficial in identifying where a subject is now living. Asking the landlord if the subject ever listed an “emergency contact” or a forwarding address that they left to send the deposit refund could turn out to be fruitful. It’s always possible the new residents know the subject or are related to them. 
  5. Most counties have public property records that can be accessed. Some require an address or parcel number to conduct a search, but some only require a name. Running the family name could identify what property the subject’s family owns and give you a lead to follow.
  6. Professional licenses are typically filed with the state or local government. If you believe your subject has a professional license, these entities could reveal what business your subject is associated with. If your subject is self-employed be sure and check your state licensing and the BBB for the subject’s name/business.
  7. Locating persons that are incarcerated can be difficult if you’re not sure where they live. For a federal inmate this information can be obtained from their website However, in other jurisdictions access varies. Some departments have their inmate roster posted on their website, but the most accurate way to determine if someone is in custody is to call the specific jail directly.
  8. Obtaining a subjects personal information using their vehicle license plate is next to impossible due to legal restrictions unless you are law enforcement. Don’t believe the hype of some websites that say they will give you the registration information of a license plate. Law Enforcement and many private investigators have access to the “vehicle plate locator” system that can reveal where a vehicle has been and where it was last seen. If you are not familiar with this system, there are thousands of cameras in the United States that are constantly taking pictures of license plates. This information is fed into a database available to law enforcement and other types of investigator. If you have the VIN number of the subject’s vehicle you can also run a CARFAX report that can reveal locations where the vehicle was serviced and / or registered.

Infidelity Investigations – Is your spouse cheating on you?

There are many reasons people hire Private Investigators to help determine if their spouse is being unfaithful. For some people they want documented evidence of the activity because they are preparing to file for divorce/child custody with the courts. For others, they just want peace of mind. Maybe they have been married for many years and still love the person. Deep down they think if they confront their spouse with this evidence, they can still possibly still work through the issues and make the relationship work. However, most clients just want to know the truth so they can move on with their lives.

A typical call I receive from a client usually involves initially speaking with them about why they believe their spouse is being unfaithful. I usually hear things like “my spouse is very secretive with his or her cell phone” or “my spouse is acting different lately” or “my spouse is suddenly leaving for work earlier or coming home later than usual”. These can be “red flags” of a change of lifestyle with your spouse, but these reasons alone are not proof of infidelity. I have listed below certain activities to be aware of that may, and I emphasize may, indicate possible infidelity.

  • Sudden change of behavior/schedule – Leaving at unusual times or more frequently with no warning
  • Odor of cologne or perfume on your spouse
  • Sudden change of appearance or grooming standards 
  • A sudden interest in physical fitness
  • Disinterest in sex with you
  • A request for sexual activity out of the norm
  • Excessive activity on social media or texting – new female/male “friends”
  • Secretive with cell phone – wont share passwords
  • Unusual applications on cell phone – commonly downloaded to hide other information
  • Evidence of infidelity on cell phone/computer – text messages/emails/explicit photos etc.
  • Unusual phone numbers on cell phone statement
  • Overcompensating behavior/ compliments/ gifts to you – Distraction from unfaithful behavior
  • Evidence of online dating sites
  • Witnesses that have seen your spouse out with another person
  • Found birth control in your spouse’s control
  • Unusual charges on credit/ATM cards or unusual amounts of cash taken out of account
  • Spouse “cleans their tail”- This means after they are on their cell phone or computer, they immediately delete their history to erase their trail. 

These type of investigations usually require surveillance on the suspected spouse. It greatly assists the investigator if you have specific time frames when you believe the activity may be occurring. This not only helps the investigator to obtain good evidence, but can also significantly reduce the cost of the investigation. However, it is understood that this is not always possible. Prior to contacting an investigator, document any evidence you already have. In addition, be prepared to give the investigator all personal information about your spouse, including his or her physical description, friends, vehicles, place of employment, habits, and weekly schedule. With this information the investigator will be able to better narrow down a time frame that will increase the chances of obtaining the evidence you are seeking.

Locating lost relatives or loved ones

I wanted to share a personal story that some folks out there may be able to relate to. Were you raised by a single parent and never knew your birth mother or father? Did you ever suspect that you may have other brothers and sisters or other relatives out there that you are not aware of?

In today’s world, family dynamics are different for everyone, but the reward of finding a long lost relative or even a relative you never thought you had could change your life.

My story starts when I was about 30 years old. I was an only child and was raised by a single mother. I had never known my father, only the limited information that my mother had provided me. After my mother had given birth, she lost contact with him. As I grew older into adulthood, I began wondering what it would have been like to know my father. Using a friend that was an investigator, I was able to locate my dad operating a small business in California. I eventually met my dad at which time he mentioned he had a son and daughter a little younger than I was. After a short visit with my dad, we lost contact with each other. I believed he didn’t want his family knowing about me at the time, but at least I had closed that chapter in my life.

Fast forward 20 years as I was approaching retirement. One day I was just sitting on my couch and googled my father’s name, only to find his obituary. He had died just 6 months before I located this information. I looked closely at the obituary and it showed the names of my brother and sister which I had never obtained!  I was ecstatic and, of course, overwhelmingly curious. Using some of my investigative techniques I acquired through my 25-year law enforcement career, I was able to locate and make phone contact with them in two different states.

After about a year of trying to get together from three different states, my brother and sister and I finally met up with each other, and it was definitely one of the best days of my life. Let’s just say that I consider myself to be the luckiest guy in the world because my brother and sister are the most fun loving and down to earth people I have ever met. Since this time our relationship has grown deeper and our families have grown closer. Because I was able to open that door, I have had the opportunity to meet more of my family! This experience was a life-changing event for me as you can see.

The point of my personal story is to not only share with you the great joy I now have from locating my brother and sister, but also to emphasize not to wait until your 50 years old to start your search. My brother and sister and I always discuss how much lost time we had and how many great memories we could have shared if we would have discovered each other at a younger age.

Many of you have similar stories or have been unsuccessful at finding the person(s) you are looking for using the most common social media websites or the inexpensive “background searches” websites. I highly recommend that you do your due diligence and make an effort to locate the person you are looking for through conventional methods. Many people will reach a dead end or give up because of the time required to do a thorough and detailed search. This is where the experience and expertise of a good Private Investigator comes in. At Resolve Investigations we can assist you in your search, whether it be for a missing person or a long-lost parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or other relative.  

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Why are Criminal Defense investigators so important?

When you are arrested, the prosecution side of your case will typically have a large amount of resources they use to build their case against you. These resources include Police Officers, Detectives, Forensic Specialists, District Attorneys, the courts, and other expert witnesses.

Your representation will be a Private Attorney or Public Defender, who typically will be very qualified and attentive to your case. However, even the best Attorneys have a very heavy work load and very little time to dedicate to a more extensive investigation of your case. This is where an experienced Criminal Defense Investigator can assist your Attorney by thoroughly reviewing and scrutinizing your case.

Your case deserves to be fully investigated equally on the defense side. This is to ensure that proper legal procedures have been followed by law enforcement, any potential witnesses have been identified and interviewed, and any exculpatory evidence has been identified and brought forward. Once the prosecution has focused on you as the suspect in a case, there may be evidence or witnesses that are overlooked, but beneficial to your defense.

The burden of proof in your case is on the prosecution. Your attorney must defend your case by presenting evidence that creates a “reasonable doubt” that you committed the crime. Criminal Defense Investigators primary focus will be on identifying, locating, and documenting this evidence.

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