What Is the Difference Between a Process Server and a Sheriff?

According to the American Constitution, every American citizen is entitled to be officially and lawfully informed if they’re going to be involved in any court of legal proceedings within a reasonable amount of time prior to the commencement of the trial. Legal documents are highly time sensitive and if they’re not served or processed efficiently and accurately, then the court case can be prematurely dismissed by the judge. That’s why it’s immensely important to entrust your precious legal documents to the right entity who can make sure that they’re delivered on time and to the right person(s).
process server vs. sheriff


What Is a Process Server?

A process server is someone who’s either independently contracted or works with a company with the sole purpose of serving legal documents to intended parties. Most states mandate that process servers must be fully licensed to work within certain jurisdictions.

What Is a Sheriff?

In the United States, a sheriff is an elected government official whose main priority is to obtain the highest letter of the law within their appointed jurisdiction(s). The outline of the sheriff’s responsibilities can vary from one state to another, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws and legal responsibilities of the sheriff in your state prior to commissioning them to serve legal documents.

Process Server vs. Sheriff: What’s the Difference?

There’s actually a huge difference between process servers and sheriffs as they have vastly different job descriptions. In fact, the only similarity between the two is that they’re both legally qualified to serve legal documents to the intended parties. There are certain specifications that are required of process servers that sheriffs aren’t necessarily legally obligated to fulfill. In essence, licensed process servers in Texas are empowered and even expected to go above and beyond their normal call of duty to ascertain that legal documents are delivered and served to the correct party. Sheriff’s department officials, on the other hand, are usually busy with other legal priorities and sometimes they’re understaffed which can cause major delays in locating individuals, delivering important papers, and filing them with the court’s clerks on time. In other words, the sheriff’s department isn’t as reliable as hiring a private process server in Texas and oftentimes, they’re bound by the restrictions of their own hours of operation.

Reasons to Choose a Process Server Instead of a Sheriff

Here are a few significant reasons to choose a certified process server in Texas vs. a sheriff to serve your time-sensitive legal documents.

Faster, More Reliable Service

As mentioned, the sheriff’s department in any county in every state is usually bogged down with an overwhelming amount of legal proceedings, documents to process, and other pressing legal matters. On top of that, these offices are sometimes severely understaffed which means that some clerks are forced to do the work of two people within a restricted timeframe. These clerks typically only work eight hours a day within set timeframes and are not likely to perform any additional duties outside of those stated hours. Another restriction is that most sheriffs are unqualified and unlicensed to work outside of their state-appointed jurisdictions, which means they can’t serve papers to the intended individuals if they happen to work or move outside of the defined jurisdiction. Certified process servers in Texas have the freedom to do additional research to locate hard-to-find individuals. They can also work across multiple counties and jurisdictions and they don’t have any set working hours, which means they work on your time and based on the unique schedule of the person(s) being served.

Consistently Open Lines of Communications

It’s standard practice for professional process servers to provide fully open and consistent lines of communication to their clients. This means that you’ll have full access and be able to reach your process server at all times during the day or night to ensure that they’re completing their tasks as requested or to obtain updates on the case. Sheriffs aren’t legally obligated to provide their personal cellphone numbers and in most cases, they won’t because they don’t want to constantly be contacted by clients. In order to reach the sheriff, you’ll have to call their offices and they’re usually far too busy to take calls from citizens, which makes it a lot harder for clients to get information on the status of their case. Process servers are obligated to report all new developments on the job and there are even online applications and resources you can use to view the status of your case.

Higher Success Rates

Most law firms, paralegals, and legal assistants have reported a significantly higher success rate when they hired process servers as opposed to using the sheriff’s department to serve papers. The reason for this is that process servers have a veritable larger spectrum of resources to work with when trying to locate certain parties and they’re not afraid to use them, whereas sheriffs will only make minimal attempts to try to locate someone due to severe time restrictions. Process servers will usually interview neighbors, closely survey the areas frequented by the intended individual(s), and even hire a private investigator if necessary to find the person. Of course, they’ll always inform their clients and obtain their permission prior to taking any of those courses of action.

Better Customer Service Skills and Knowledge of Local Laws

In this regard, the main distinguishing factor between process servers and sheriffs is that the former has more to lose than the latter when it comes to providing excellent customers service as opposed to subpar customer service. The process serving industry is highly competitive and since the legal community is very tight-knit, word travels fast if a particular process server fails to meet specific industry requirements or doesn’t properly do their job to the satisfaction of their clients. At the end of the day, process serving is a business and if a company or individual server develops a bad reputation, they could risk losing good business opportunities. By the nature of their jobs, process servers are usually required to be more knowledgeable than sheriffs when it comes to specific process serving-related laws in any given region where they’re hired to work, which qualifies them more than sheriffs to complete their assigned duties.

Hire a Certified Process Server in Texas

Professional Court Services (PCS) is a highly esteemed process serving firm located in the heart of Texas. We have extensive experience and knowledge of local process serving laws and regulations throughout the entire state of Texas with a specialty in Dallas and Fort Worth. To find out how we can assist you with your legal case and fulfill your process serving needs, please contact us.

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Crystal Schuder

Crystal Schuder

Crystal Schuder is part-owner of Professional Court Services. She has been in the process filing industry since 2004 and has years of courthouse experience under her belt. Crystal has worked with numerous attorneys, judges, and other courthouse personnel over the years and has developed a strong reputation for her professionalism within the industry.
Crystal Schuder

Author: Crystal Schuder

Crystal Schuder is part-owner of Professional Court Services. She has been in the process filing industry since 2004 and has years of courthouse experience under her belt. Crystal has worked with numerous attorneys, judges, and other courthouse personnel over the years and has developed a strong reputation for her professionalism within the industry.