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  • Writer's pictureSteve Navarrete

Is it loitering or staking out when a process server is waiting to serve a Defendant?

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

It depends on the specific circumstances and local laws. In some cases, it may be considered "stalking out," which involves waiting for a person in a persistent and intentional manner. If done incorectly, this can be considered a form of harassment and may be illegal in some jurisdictions.


In other cases, it may be considered "loitering," which involves lingering in a public place without a lawful purpose. This too can be illegal in some jurisdictions, particularly if the process server is obstructing public spaces or acting in a disruptive manner.


It is a good practice to check in with the local police when you are staking out a defendant to serve them with papers. Notifying the police can help to ensure that the process is conducted in a safe and lawful manner and can also provide some protection for the process server. Some of the benefits of checking in with the police include:

  1. Avoiding misunderstandings: By notifying the police, the process server can avoid any misunderstandings that may arise if the police observe them lingering near a defendant's home or place of business.

  2. Protecting personal safety: Staking out a defendant can be a potentially dangerous activity, especially if the defendant is aware of the process server's presence. Checking in with the police can provide additional safety and security for the process server.

  3. Establishing a working relationship: Checking in with the police can help establish a working relationship with local law enforcement, which can be helpful if the process server encounters any difficulties or issues while serving papers.

  4. Complying with local laws: Notifying the police may be required by local laws and regulations, and failure to do so can result in legal penalties.

  5. Not blowing your cover: If a neighbor calls the police to report you as a suspicious person, it has been my experience that the police will typically advise them that they are aware of your presence and not come out to engage you. Police presence and unwanted attention may cause you to lose the element of surprise.

Overall, checking in with the police when staking out a defendant is a good practice that can help ensure the process is conducted safely, legally, and effectively. Typically, if the process server is waiting in a public area, they are okay, but it's important to note that process servers must follow all relevant laws and regulations when attempting to serve papers to a defendant or witness. They should avoid any behavior that could be considered harassing or disruptive, and they should be respectful of the privacy and personal space of the person they are serving. If a process server is unsure about the legality of their actions, they should consult with a lawyer or the relevant authorities before proceeding.



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