How To Serve Someone

Service or "serving" someone is communicating with the other party to issue papers and informing them about the lawsuit. Service can be done in person, by mail, or by a sheriff's office or private process server.

To begin a court case, you must be able to find the person whom the case is against. Below you will find lots of tips on how to locate someone. If you are having a difficult time finding someone, you will need to do something called alternative service. However, keep a record of everything you did to try, including dates, so you can tell the court what you did to try to find the person.

  1. Common Sense: the best tool you have to find someone is your common sense. Think about who their friends are, what they like to do, and where they like to go.

  2. Last Known Address: attempt service by process server or certified mail if you know the individual's last known address.

  3. Friends and Relatives: contact any known relatives or friends of the individual.

  4. Employers: contact the individual's employer or last known employer. You can also attempt service at the individual's employer.

  5. Internet: Google the name of the individual. Check social media.

  6. Phone Directories: check phone directories and city directories in all towns or cities where you think the individual may live. Your public library may have phone directories for other cities, and many city phone directories are available on the Internet.

  7. Municipal Tax Department: contact the municipal tax department in all cities you think the individual may live.

  8. Utility Companies: call telephone information and utility companies in all cities you think the individual may live.

  9. If the individual is a member of a regulated trade or profession, such as a barber, plumber, dentist, nurse, doctor, or lawyer, they may be certified, licensed or registered through a state agency.

  10. Search for businesses associated with the individual on the Secretary of State's website.

  11. Conduct a "records search" with the UJS. As long as you have an individual's legal name and birth date, the Clerk of Court can conduct a records search of the individual. This may reveal current address information used in cases involving this individual. There is a fee associated with this.

  12. People convicted of certain sex offenses are required to register with the state. A searchable database of registered sex offenders, maintained by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation is available.

  13. Search for prisoners in federal facilities using the Inmate Locator website.

  14. If you think the person is in the military, contact the military locator service:

    • Air Force: 1-210-652-5775
    • Army: 1-866-771-6357
    • Marines: 1-703-640-3942/43
    • Navy: 1-901-874-3388
    • Coast Guard: 1-800-842-8740

    You can verify someone is in the military by searching the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) database.