Small Claims

Many local laws and courts have been affected by COVID-19. Please use the search for legal help tool to find a legal aid organization or self help center near you for accurate information and more support.

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Read about where to file your lawsuit or case. Information on jurisdiction and venue.

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

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

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.

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.

This guide offers suggestions to help you get results when you have a problem with the purchase of goods or services. It explains the proper way to make a complaint, and also discusses using government agencies, consumer groups, lawyers and small claims court. A sample complaint letter and a list of compliant-handling agencies are included.

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

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

The comprehensive guide to making purchases and dealing with companies.

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

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

Courts' services and process, and mediation services.

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

Alphabetical Listing of Resources

You can request a free interpreter to be with you in court.

A court interpreter verbally translates (called “interpreting”) everything the judge and others say from spoken English into your primary language, and everything you say back into spoken English.

This resource has the answers to commonly asked questions about court interpreters, including how to ask for one.

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.

Negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, mediation, litigation, and arbitration.