(1) All process shall be served by the sheriff of the county where the person to be served is found, except initial nonenforceable civil process, criminal witness subpoenas, and criminal summonses may be served by a special process server appointed by the sheriff as provided for in this section or by a certified process server as provided for in ss. 48.25-48.31. Civil witness subpoenas may be served by any person authorized by rules of civil procedure.
(2)(a) The sheriff of each county may, in his or her discretion, establish an approved list of natural persons designated as special process servers. The sheriff shall add to such list the names of those natural persons who have met the requirements provided for in this section. Each natural person whose name has been added to the approved list is subject to annual recertification and reappointment by the sheriff. The sheriff shall prescribe an appropriate form for application for appointment. A reasonable fee for the processing of the application shall be charged.
(b) A person applying to become a special process server shall:
1. Be at least 18 years of age.
2. Have no mental or legal disability.
3. Be a permanent resident of the state.
4. Submit to a background investigation that includes the right to obtain and review the criminal record of the applicant.
5. Obtain and file with the application a certificate of good conduct that specifies there is no pending criminal case against the applicant and that there is no record of any felony conviction, nor a record of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or dishonesty, with respect to the applicant within the past 5 years.
6. Submit to an examination testing the applicant’s knowledge of the laws and rules regarding the service of process. The content of the examination and the passing grade thereon, and the frequency and the location at which the examination is offered must be prescribed by the sheriff. The examination must be offered at least once annually.
7. Take an oath that the applicant will honestly, diligently, and faithfully exercise the duties of a special process server.
(c) The sheriff may prescribe additional rules and requirements directly related to subparagraphs (b)1.-7. regarding the eligibility of a person to become a special process server or to have his or her name maintained on the list of special process servers.
(d) An applicant who completes the requirements of this section must be designated as a special process server provided that the sheriff of the county has determined that the appointment of special process servers is necessary or desirable. Each special process server must be issued an identification card bearing his or her identification number, printed name, signature and photograph, and an expiration date. Each identification card must be renewable annually upon proof of good standing.
(e) The sheriff shall have the discretion to revoke an appointment at any time that he or she determines a special process server is not fully and properly discharging the duties as a special process server. The sheriff shall institute a program to determine whether the special process servers appointed as provided for in this section are faithfully discharging their duties pursuant to such appointment, and a reasonable fee may be charged for the costs of administering such program.
(3) A special process server appointed in accordance with this section shall be authorized to serve process in only the county in which the sheriff who appointed him or her resides and may charge a reasonable fee for his or her services.
(4) Any special process server shall be disinterested in any process he or she serves; and if the special process server willfully and knowingly executes a false return of service or otherwise violates the oath of office, he or she shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided for in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, and shall be permanently barred from serving process in Florida.
History.—s. 16, July 22, 1845; s. 1, ch. 3721, 1887; RS 1014, 1246; GS 1401; RGS 2598; s. 1, ch. 9318, 1923; CGL 4238; s. 4, ch. 67-254; s. 12, ch. 73-334; s. 1, ch. 76-263; s. 2, ch. 79-396; s. 1, ch. 81-266; s. 1, ch. 88-135; s. 2, ch. 91-306; s. 268, ch. 95-147; s. 16, ch. 98-34; s. 2, ch. 2009-215.