Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 8.01. Civil Remedies and Procedure
Chapter 8. Process

Article 3. Who and Where to Serve Process.

§ 8.01-293. Authorization to serve process, capias or show cause order; execute writ of possession or eviction and levy upon property.

A. The following persons are authorized to serve process:

1. The sheriff within such territorial bounds as described in § 8.01-295;

2. Any person of age 18 years or older and who is not a party or otherwise interested in the subject matter in controversy. For purposes of this subdivision, an investigator employed by an attorney for the Commonwealth or employed by the Indigent Defense Commission, who within 10 years immediately prior to being employed by the attorney for the Commonwealth or Indigent Defense Commission was an active law-enforcement officer as defined in § 9.1-101 in the Commonwealth and retired or resigned from his position as a law-enforcement officer in good standing, shall not be considered to be a party or otherwise interested in the subject matter in controversy while engaged in the performance of his official duties, provided that the sheriff in the jurisdiction where process is to be served has agreed that such investigators may serve process. If a sheriff has agreed that such investigators may serve process, then investigators employed by either an attorney for the Commonwealth or the Indigent Defense Commission may serve process. However, in any case in which custody or visitation of a minor child or children is at issue and a summons is issued for the attendance and testimony of a teacher or other school personnel who is not a party to the proceeding, if such summons is served on school property, it shall be served only by a sheriff or his deputy; or

3. A private process server. For purposes of this section, "private process server" means any person 18 years of age or older and who is not a party or otherwise interested in the subject matter in controversy, and who charges a fee for service of process.

Whenever in this Code the term "officer" or "sheriff" is used to refer to persons authorized to make, return or do any other act relating to service of process, such term shall be deemed to refer to any person authorized by this section to serve process.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law (i) only a sheriff or high constable may execute an order or writ of possession for personal, real or mixed property, including a writ of eviction arising out of an action in unlawful entry and detainer or ejectment; (ii) any sheriff, high constable or law-enforcement officer as defined in § 9.1-101 of the Code of Virginia may serve any capias or show cause order; and (iii) only a sheriff, the high constable for the City of Norfolk or Virginia Beach or a treasurer may levy upon property.

Code 1950, §§ 8-52, 8-54; 1954, c. 543; 1960, c. 16; 1968, c. 484; 1977, c. 617; 1981, c. 110; 1986, c. 275; 1996, cc. 501, 608; 1997, c. 820; 2002, c. 342; 2004, cc. 210, 588; 2011, c. 766; 2018, c. 238; 2019, cc. 180, 700.

§ 8.01-294. Sheriff to get from clerk's office process and other papers; return of papers; effect of late return.

Every sheriff who attends a court shall, every day when the clerk's office is open for business, go to such office and receive all process, and other papers to be served by him, and give receipts therefor, unless he has received notice from a regular employee of the clerk's office that there are no such papers requiring service and shall return all papers within 72 hours of service, except when such returns would be due on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. In such case, the return is due on the next day following such Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Failure to make return of service of process by anyone authorized to serve process under § 8.01-293 within the time specified in this section shall not invalidate any service of process or any judgment based thereon. In the event a late return prejudices a party or interferes with the court's administration of a case, the court may, in its discretion, continue the case, require additional or substitute service of process, or take such other action or enter such order as the court deems appropriate under the circumstances.

Code 1950, § 8-49; 1954, c. 545; 1977, c. 617; 1978, c. 831; 2002, c. 65; 2004, c. 627.

§ 8.01-295. Territorial limits within which sheriff may serve process in his official capacity; process appearing to be duly served.

The sheriff may execute such process throughout the political subdivision in which he serves and in any contiguous county or city. If the process appears to be duly served, and is good in other respects, it shall be deemed valid although not directed to an officer, or if directed to any officer, though executed by some other person. This section shall not be construed to require the sheriff to serve such process in any jurisdiction other than in his own.

Code 1950, § 8-50; 1977, c. 617; 1982, c. 674.