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Small Claims Court handles Civil cases asking for $10,000.00 or less. It is a special court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. Rules are simplified and the hearing is informal. There are no lawyers, no rules of evidence, and no juries. You don’t need to be a United States citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court.
Some examples of problems that can be handled in Small Claims Court are:
- Your landlord will not return your security deposit
- Your car was damaged and the person responsible will not pay for repairs
- Your new TV does not work and the store will not repair it
- Your tenant damaged your property and the security deposit will not cover the full costs of repair
- Your friend will not pay back the money you loaned them
To determine where you should file your claim.
To learn about going to Small Claims court, using instructions and guides to help you with your case.
Small Claims Self-Help and Resources
Local Help and Resources
Small claims and alternative dispute resolution services are provided by Dispute Resolution Services of the San Joaquin County Bar Foundation (DRS).
All members of the public are encouraged to use the following services provided by DRS.
Due to COVID-19, the Small Claims Clinics will not be held until further notice. You may still call (209) 473-6463, listen to the complete recording and leave a message to receive a returned call from the Small Claims Advisory staff for assistance with your claim if you choose to.
Small Claims Clinics:
Certified law students or attorneys will be available to answer the public’s questions, on a one-on-one basis regarding small claims. Services are free.
Small Claims Advisory Line
The public can call (209) 473-6463 at any time of the day to receive information regarding Small Claims Court forms and procedures, as well as referrals to other community resources. Trained advisory staff will respond to inquiries by telephone or email.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Services
Same day, in court mediation services with trained mediators will be available for parties of small claims, civil harassment, and unlawful detainer cases in accordance with the Dispute Resolution Programs Act of 1986. The program is voluntary and will be low- or no-cost to the community.
For more information about the services available, call (209) 474-8794 or visit http://disputeresolution.sjcbar.org.
On-line Help and Resources
- The California Judicial Council has developed a video called Resolving Your Small Claims Case in the California Courts that can explain the process of small claims court and the mediation process. Click here to WATCH THE VIDEO. Oprima aquí para el video.
- The Small Claims Court, A Guide to Its Practical Use