Trespassing and Barriers

Trespassing: Unlawful entry upon private property.

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Allowable Areas

When serving process, do not trespass. It is fine to be in any area that is evidently open for the public. For example, the sidewalk is an area for public use. A path extending from a sidewalk to the door of a home or business is, again, implied to be used by the public. While approaching a home, the expectation is that you knock on the front door or ring the doorbell. When entering a business, the guidelines are the same. Anywhere before the front desk is open to the public, but crossing behind a business' front desk can be considered trespassing.

However, being in areas that are evidently open to the public does not give you unlimited freedom. You may not interfere with any person's expectation of privacy from an area of public use. This means not looking through or knocking on windows, not touching mailboxes, or attempting to find an alternate entrance to someone's property. Similarly roads and sidewalks may be considered public spaces, but it is not acceptable to block someone's driveway.

Disallowed Areas

If you see a "No Trespassing" sign in front of, or next to, a residence, then please respect the homeowner's wishes. You should instead try calling the servee (if phone numbers are provided to you) and attempt any neighbors or leasing offices to confirm residency of the servee. Then log an attempt in ABC Mobile specifying why you are unable to knock on the servee's door.

A "No Trespassing" sign is not the only thing that should keep you out of certain areas. It is not okay to go anywhere that is implied to be closed to the public. This includes areas locked off by a fence, backyards, or areas behind the front desk of a business.

When Uncertain

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, "If I owned this property, what areas would I be comfortable with a stranger occupying, and what actions would I be comfortable with this stranger taking when occupying said areas?"

Always remember that your own safety comes first in the matters of considering whether a property is accessible. Be mindful of how your actions could be seen by the residents of the home, and err on the side of caution.

Trespassing rules can vary by location, Process Servers should always consult the rules guidelines in their area.