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Maryland Raises Sheriff Service of Process Fee from $40 to $60: What You Need to Know

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As of October 1, 2022, Maryland has implemented a significant change impacting legal proceedings within the state. The fee for the Sheriff’s service of process has been increased from $40 to $60. This adjustment is outlined in Maryland Code of Courts & Judicial Proceedings § 7-402 and is crucial for anyone involved in legal actions in Maryland to understand.

Understanding Service of Process

Service of process is a critical component of the legal system. It ensures that individuals involved in a legal matter are properly notified, allowing the court to exercise its jurisdiction. This procedure involves delivering legal documents, such as complaints, summonses, and subpoenas, to the involved parties.

The responsibility for serving these documents typically falls to a sheriff or a process server. With the new fee structure in place, it’s essential to understand how this change affects legal proceedings and associated costs.

Key Changes in the Maryland Code

The specific section of the Maryland Code that addresses this fee change is § 7-402. This statute governs the fees that sheriffs may charge for various services, including the service of process. As of October 1, 2022, the fee for service of process has been revised as follows:

  • Previous Fee: $40
  • New Fee: $60

This fee is payable for each individual or entity served, which means the total cost can add up quickly in cases involving multiple parties.

Implications of the Fee Increase

1. Closer to Actual Costs

The higher fee brings the cost of sheriff services closer to the actual expenses incurred for service of process. This adjustment reflects the real costs associated with performing this essential legal function.

2. Higher Legal Costs

The increase from $40 to $60 per service can significantly raise the overall costs associated with legal actions. This is particularly impactful for cases requiring multiple services of process, such as in multi-defendant lawsuits or complex legal matters involving numerous parties.

3. Budgeting for Legal Proceedings

Parties involved in legal proceedings should budget for these increased costs. Attorneys, law firms, and individuals representing themselves (pro se litigants) need to account for the higher fees when estimating the expenses of pursuing or defending a case.

4. Impact on Access to Justice

The increased fee may also have implications for access to justice, especially for low-income individuals. While the fee hike is aimed at covering the actual costs incurred by sheriffs in serving process, it may pose an additional financial burden on those already struggling with the costs of legal representation.

Legal Perspective: Excerpt from Maryland Code of Courts & Judicial Proceedings § 7-402

To provide a clearer understanding, here is an excerpt from the relevant statute:

§ 7-402. Service of process fees.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this subtitle, a sheriff shall receive a fee of $60 for serving any writ, subpoena, summons, or other process, and a fee of $5 for each copy of the process required to be served.

(b) The fees prescribed in this section shall be paid to the sheriff by the party requesting the service of process, and the sheriff may not be required to serve any process until the fee is paid.

(c) The sheriff shall remit all fees collected under this section to the county treasury or, in Baltimore City, to the Director of Finance.”

Practical Tips for Managing Increased Fees

  1. Plan Ahead: Ensure you budget for the increased costs when preparing for legal actions.
  2. Combine Services: Where possible, try to combine multiple services of process into one request to minimize fees.
  3. Seek Fee Waivers: If you are a low-income litigant, explore options for fee waivers or reductions that may be available through the court.

Why Use Private Process Servers?

Given the increased fees for sheriff services, utilizing private process servers can be a more efficient and cost-effective option. Private process servers often provide faster, more reliable service compared to sheriff departments, which may be overwhelmed with various duties.

Here are some reasons why choosing a private process server like Freestate Investigations, LLC, can be beneficial:

  1. Speed and Efficiency: Private process servers can often complete the service of process more quickly than sheriffs, who have many other responsibilities.
  2. Flexibility: Private servers offer more flexible service hours, including evenings and weekends, which can be crucial for reaching parties who are difficult to serve during regular business hours.
  3. Detailed Reporting: Professional process servers provide detailed affidavits of service, ensuring that the service of process is thoroughly documented and legally compliant.
  4. Personalized Service: Private servers can offer a higher level of customer service, addressing specific needs and providing updates on the status of service.

Place Your Order with Freestate Investigations, LLC

At Freestate Investigations, LLC, we understand the importance of timely and accurate service of process. Our team of experienced process servers is dedicated to providing efficient and reliable service to meet your legal needs. With competitive rates and a commitment to excellence, we strive to ensure that your documents are served promptly and professionally.

Choosing Freestate Investigations, LLC, means choosing a partner who prioritizes your case and ensures that all legal procedures are followed meticulously. Place your order today to learn more about how we can assist you with your service of process needs.

At Freestate Investigations, LLC, our skilled team is dedicated to promptly locating individuals and delivering your documents with precision. We excel in handling even the most challenging cases with ease. Reach out to us now!