Before Going to Court

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Small claims courts have been set up by the state legislature to handle disputes about money.  In California, small claims courts usually hear cases that involve $10,000 or less if they are filed by individuals or sole proprietorships -- or $5,000 or less if filed by businesses (other than sole proprietorships) or by government agencies.

NOTE:  If you do not want money, but rather you only want the defendant to do something or stop doing something (for example, you only want the trees trimmed, or to have a dog stop barking), or if you want more than $10,000, then small claims court is not for you.  In these cases you need to use a different court.  For more information, please read “Case Type Definitions.” Opens new window

This section will help you to understand:

Once you know the basics, you can learn what to do:

At any time, you can:

  • Read answers for Frequently Asked Questions about small claims cases.
  • Watch some short videos on the Basics of Small Claims Cases, click here. Opens new window
  • Read some general information about How Courts Work, click here. Opens new window
  • Watch some videos with general information about how California's court system works, click here. Opens new window
  • Watch a short video called "Before You Go to Court", click here. Opens new window



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