Can a person serving civil papers open a car door without permission, if the person inside the vehicle is who they are trying to serve?

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Can a person serving civil papers open a car door without permission, if the person inside the vehicle is who they are trying to serve?

If not, what law are you breaking by opening the car door?

Asked on August 2, 2011 Tennessee

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you are on public property, opening a car door that is unlocked may be annoying but depending on the state laws in which this occurred, you actually may not be looking at a criminal act. It might be a civil trespass but ultimately this person was not opening the door to commit a felony or larceny therein. You need to review your state statutes on trespass and see if this sort of act would qualify as a temporary trespass. Now if you are tying to contest the service make sure you contest in court under limited appearace so the court does not assume you have now agreed to personal jurisdiction.


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