Small Claims

This section will give you general guidelines for how to best prepare yourself for court.

Ask questions and get answers, in real time, right here on the Internet, from live law librarians throughout California.

If you cannot afford the filing fee or other court costs, you may qualify to have these fees and costs waived by the court.

Whatever the reason, you have the right to represent yourself, to be your own lawyer in all cases in California.

The Constitution; Executive and Administrative Laws; County, Appellate, Supreme Court, and Federal Districts; State Legislation; and Legal Guides.

The legal way to give formal notice is to have the other side "served" with a copy of the paperwork that you have filed with the court.

State offices, district attorneys (DA), and government regulators.

ADR is usually less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a trial.

The comprehensive guide to making purchases and dealing with companies.

Courts' services and process, and mediation services.

Learn about civil cases that involve financial issues, including contract disputes, property damage, injury, unpaid debt, and bankruptcy.

Plan what you are going to say, prepare the proof to take to court, take copies of all your court papers and your Proof of Service, and take people to support your story (witnesses).

Learn about going to small claims court, using instructions and guides to help you with your case. Also learn about trying to resolve your dispute out of court, and get answers to frequently asked questions.

Small claims cases require that you ask the other side for payment before you go to court (unless there is a good reason why you cannot). You can ask in person, by phone, or in writing. You will have to tell the court you did this and how on your court form.

Keeping records, complaining to someone higher up, consulting a lawyer, using mediation services, and other ways to resolve conflicts.

Step-by-step guide for before and after the case.

A handbook from the CA Department of Consumer Affairs.

If you are an individual and want to file a lawsuit for $1, or less, you have the option of filing a small claims case or a limited civil case. If you are a business, you can file in small claims court for $5, or less.