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2020 Florida Statutes
Service of process generally; service of witness subpoenas.
Service of process generally; service of witness subpoenas.
48.031 Service of process generally; service of witness subpoenas.—
(1)(a) Service of original process is made by delivering a copy of it to the person to be served with a copy of the complaint, petition, or other initial pleading or paper or by leaving the copies at his or her usual place of abode with any person residing therein who is 15 years of age or older and informing the person of their contents. Minors who are or have been married shall be served as provided in this section.
(b) An employer, when contacted by an individual authorized to serve process, shall allow the authorized individual to serve an employee in a private area designated by the employer. An employer who fails to comply with this paragraph commits a noncriminal violation, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.
(2)(a) Substituted service on the spouse of the person to be served may be made at any place in a county by an individual authorized under s. 48.021 or s. 48.27 to serve process in that county, if the cause of action is not an adversarial proceeding between the spouse and the person to be served, if the spouse requests such service or the spouse is also a party to the action, and if the spouse and person to be served reside together in the same dwelling, regardless of whether such dwelling is located in the county where substituted service is made.
(b) Substituted service may be made on an individual doing business as a sole proprietorship at his or her place of business, during regular business hours, by serving the person in charge of the business at the time of service if two attempts to serve the owner are made at the place of business.
(3)(a) The service of process of witness subpoenas, whether in criminal cases or civil actions, shall be made as provided in subsection (1). However, service of a subpoena on a witness in a civil traffic case, a criminal traffic case, a misdemeanor case, or a second degree or third degree felony may be made by United States mail directed to the witness at the last known address, and the service must be mailed at least 7 days prior to the date of the witness’s required appearance. Failure of a witness to appear in response to a subpoena served by United States mail that is not certified may not be grounds for finding the witness in contempt of court.
(b) A criminal witness subpoena commanding the witness to appear for a court appearance may be posted by a person authorized to serve process at the witness’s residence if three attempts to serve the subpoena, made at different times of the day or night on different dates, have failed. A criminal witness subpoena commanding the witness to appear for a deposition may be posted by a person authorized to serve process at the witness’s residence if one attempt to serve the subpoena has failed. The subpoena must be posted at least 5 days before the date of the witness’s required appearance.
(4)(a) Service of a criminal witness subpoena upon a law enforcement officer or upon any federal, state, or municipal employee called to testify in an official capacity in a criminal case may be made as provided in subsection (1) or by delivery to a designated supervisory or administrative employee at the witness’s place of employment if the agency head or highest ranking official at the witness’s place of employment has designated such employee to accept such service. However, no such designated employee is required to accept service:
1. For a witness who is no longer employed by the agency at that place of employment;
2. If the witness is not scheduled to work prior to the date the witness is required to appear; or
3. If the appearance date is less than 5 days from the date of service.
The agency head or highest ranking official at the witness’s place of employment may determine the days of the week and the hours that service may be made at the witness’s place of employment.
(b) Service may also be made in accordance with subsection (3) provided that the person who requests the issuance of the criminal witness subpoena shall be responsible for mailing the subpoena in accordance with that subsection and for making the proper return of service to the court.
(5) A person serving process shall place, on the first page only of at least one of the processes served, the date and time of service, his or her initials or signature, and, if applicable, his or her identification number. The person requesting service or the person authorized to serve the process shall file the return-of-service form with the court.
(6)(a) If the only address for a person to be served which is discoverable through public records is a private mailbox, a virtual office, or an executive office or mini suite, substituted service may be made by leaving a copy of the process with the person in charge of the private mailbox, virtual office, or executive office or mini suite, but only if the process server determines that the person to be served maintains a mailbox, a virtual office, or an executive office or mini suite at that location.
(b) For purposes of this subsection, the term “virtual office” means an office that provides communications services, such as telephone or facsimile services, and address services without providing dedicated office space, and where all communications are routed through a common receptionist. The term “executive office or mini suite” means an office that provides communications services, such as telephone and facsimile services, a dedicated office space, and other supportive services, and where all communications are routed through a common receptionist.
(7) A gated residential community, including a condominium association or a cooperative, shall grant unannounced entry into the community, including its common areas and common elements, to a person who is attempting to serve process on a defendant or witness who resides within or is known to be within the community.
History.—s. 5, Nov. 23, 1828; RS 1015; GS 1402; RGS 2599; CGL 4246; s. 6, ch. 29737, 1955; s. 4, ch. 67-254; s. 1, ch. 75-34; s. 3, ch. 79-396; s. 3, ch. 82-118; s. 1, ch. 84-339; s. 7, ch. 85-80; s. 2, ch. 87-405; s. 6, ch. 93-208; s. 269, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 95-172; s. 1, ch. 98-410; s. 1, ch. 2004-273; s. 2, ch. 2011-159; s. 2, ch. 2014-207; s. 1, ch. 2015-51; s. 1, ch. 2015-59; s. 1, ch. 2016-207; s. 4, ch. 2019-67.
Note.—Former s. 47.13.