Supporting New Jersey Process Server Aggravated Assault Bill
Posted June 12, 2012 in Legislative
Below are my thoughts from a New Jersey perspective:
A process server, whether licensed, registered, or certified by a court or other governmental body, or merely a person 18 years of age or older not party to an action, who is authorized by court rule or statute to serve civil process, performs an very essential function in the litigation process. The process server initiates the chain of events required by federal and state constitutions affording litigants their rights to due process of law. The process server, through proper and effective service of process, provides notice to a party that an action has been instituted against he or she, giving that person the opportunity to respond, be heard, and present evidence in their favor. In the performance of their duties, process servers should not be treated with disrespect, nor be the victims of assault, or other heinous offenses.
In New Jersey, there is currently legislation pending (SB 1964) that would amend an existing statute (NJS 2C:12-1) to include process servers and private investigators among those classes of persons who provide services to the public, and should be protected by law against assault. This bill upgrades the offense of simple assault to aggravated assault when committed against any process server and any licensed private detective or investigator.
At present, simple assault is a disorderly persons offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Simple assault is upgraded to aggravated assault in some cases involving protected categories of individuals such as law enforcement officers, firemen, emergency first-aid workers, any employee of a school board, any employee of the Division of Youth and Family Services, any Justice or judge, any motorbus operation, any employee of the Department of Corrections any cable television employee, health care workers and professionals and direct care workers at certain institutions.
Under the provisions of this bill, the offense of simple assault would be upgraded to aggravated assault if it is committed against any person who is authorized, or is specially appointed for the purposes of providing personal service of all court initiated legal documents by the court, the plaintiff’s attorney or the attorney’s agent or any other competent adult not having a direct interest in the litigation while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties in regard to providing personal service or because of his status as a process server, court official, or private investigator.
In addition, this bill would upgrade simple assault to aggravated assault when it is committed against a licensed private detective or investigator. These crimes would be crimes of the third degree if bodily injury occurred or crimes of the fourth degree if no injury resulted. A crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment between three and five years, a fine of up to $15,000 or both. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months.
The New Jersey Professional Process Servers Association (NJPPSA) strongly supports this legislation, as does the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS). All process servers, private investigators and detectives, and legal professionals are urged to contact Senator Dawn Marie Addiego, District 8 (Atlantic, Burlington and Camden), and other New Jersey legislators, to express support of this bill.
John Perez, Esquire
Interstate Deposition Subpoena Service, Inc.
56 Park Place
Newark, NJ 07102
Fax (800) 742-2997