How Small Claims Court Works | Alameda County, California
What is a Small Claims Court?
How Does Small Claims Court Work?
Before Small Claims Court
Filing Your Case
|Claim Amount||Filing Fee|
|$0 - $1500||$30|
|$5,000.01- $10,000 *||$75|
|Frequent Filer **||$100|
Serving the Defendant
A professional process service
Having the county's sheriff do it
The Court Hearing
Enforcing the Judgment
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you have to take someone to Small Claims Court?
In California, cases must be filed within a certain amount of time called a statute of limitation. In each case, you must calculate the time limit from the date the contract was broken or the date the damage/injury/fraud occurred.
- Written Agreements - 4 Years
- Oral Contracts - 2 Years
- Personal Injury - 2 Years
- Property Damage - 3 Years
- Fraud - 3 Years
What happens if you don't show up for small claims court?
If the plaintiff doesn’t appear at the hearing and doesn’t notify the court of the reason for the absence, the court has several options. The judge may:
Reschedule the case
Dismiss the case with prejudice
Dismiss the case without prejudice
If the defendant appears, the judge may enter a judgment against you after considering the defendant’s evidence.
To learn more about how to request for dismissal after filing your claim in California read here. If the defendant doesn't appear at the hearing but the plaintiff does, then it's very likely a default judgment will be entered against the defendant after the plaintiff presents their case. A defendant with a valid reason for missing the hearing may file to vacate the default judgment and have the case heard again. This can be done by filing SC-135.
How much money can you ask for in the Small Claims?
Individuals or businesses represented by an individual: $10,000
NEED HELP WITH YOUR JUSTICE JOURNEY?
The quest for justice is never easy, particularly when it comes to getting your money back. However, thanks to advances in technology, it has become easier. Quest for Justice’s first app, JusticeDirect, is the only app of its kind designed to support people without lawyers to resolve their disputes and get their money back, both in and out of court. The first step to getting money back is through a letter demanding payment from the other party JusticeDirect offers customizable demand letters for free. If the letter demanding payment does not work, then the next step is taking them to court. JusticeDirect* will guide users every step of the way through the small claims court process by helping them:
Understand the legal process;
Evaluate the pros and cons that come with taking someone to court;
Generate small claims court forms; and,
Avoid common mistakes when filing your forms and serving notice on the other side.
Check out some of our videos