Orange County Small Claims Court, California

Where are Small Claims Court Cases Heard in Orange County?

In Orange County, small claims court cases are heard in 4 courthouses across the County. The website address for Orange County Superior Court is: www.occourts.org. Here are the following locations where small claims cases are heard:

Central Justice Center

The Central Justice Center is located at:

P.O. Box 22014
Santa Ana, CA 92702-2014

The phone number is: 657-622-7553

Harbor Justice Center – Newport Beach Facility

The Harbor Justice Center – Newport Beach Facility is located at:

4601 Jamboree Rd.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

The phone number is: 657-622-7553

North Justice Center

The North Justice Center is located at:

1275 N. Berkeley Ave.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

The phone number is: 657-622-5400

West Justice Center

The West Justice Center is located at:

1275 N. Berkeley Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92838

The phone number is: 657-622-6642

What is Mediation for Small Claims Court?

Orange County Superior Court may offer mediation for your claim before the actual trial. Mediation is a confidential, non-binding dispute resolution program where an impartial mediator attempts to bring both parties to an outcome that each side agrees to. Mediation may be offered before your trial or the very same day of the trial. It is nothing to be scared of, just your chance to explain your side of the case to the mediator about what happened.

How long do I have to wait for my case to be heard?

Orange County has its own Superior Court. The amount of time between when the claim is filed and heard varies between each County (and even within each County). Usually, the hearing for your small claims court case should be between twenty and seventy days after the case was filed. However, because of state cuts to the court’s budget, most hearings are now being set well past the seventy day mark.

Small Claims Court Hearing in Orange County

Orange County Small Claims Court

Orange County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases are often scheduled where a number of cases will be heard in the same department at the same time (one at a time). Often, the court’s schedule is very busy, and the court will expect you to present your argument in just a few minutes. (It is usually smart to pay attention to the cases heard before yours to see which issues and questions the judge asks the parties). It is important to prepare for your case beforehand. This means organizing and bringing all paperwork and other documents that support your side (receipts, contracts, pictures, etc.). You should also bring other witnesses who can testify about your case. Being prepared for the hearing is half the battle. After hearing both sides, the judge may make a decision at the hearing or notify the parties of the ruling by mail, several days later.

What types of cases are filed in Orange County Small Claims Court?

All types of cases can be filed in small claims court. Some common types of cases are automobile accidents, property damage incidents, homeowners association disputes, landlord tenant disputes (possible over security deposits), and contractor disputes.

Limits on Orange County Small Claims Court

The most a person can sue for in small claims court is $10,000. A business can only sue for $5,000 or less in small claims court. An individual can only file two small claims court cases for more than $2,500.00 in one year. A person or corporation can file as many cases seeking $2,500.00 or less.

How much time do I have to file my case?

All cases must be filed before a certain deadline called the statute of limitations. This is a legal term which simply means the deadline for which you must file your claim. The time limit varies depending on the type of the case. If the case involves personal injury to you, the case must be filed within two years of the injury or two years of when you first learned of the injury. (A child has two years from the date of his or her eighteenth birthday). If the defendant broke an oral contract, the plaintiff must file the case within two years of the breach. If a written contract was broken, you have three years from when the agreement was broken. If you lost money because you were tricked or lied to, you have three years from when you learn of the deceit to file your case. It can be very difficult to determine when the statute of limitations begins to run (even for veteran attorneys). It is far better to file the case and let the judge decide, rather than filing too late and having it dismissed.

Which cases are filed in Orange County?

The general rule is the case or claim must be filed in the County where the defendant resides. There are some exceptions to this rule (for example, an auto accident can be filed in the County where the accident occurred). A person can file an action in small claims court if that person is at least 18 years old or a child who has been emancipated. If you are under 18 or not mentally competent, the judge must appoint a guardian at litem to represent you in small claims court. The guardian ad litem acts on behalf of the person and makes decisions specifically for that case only.

Can I hire a lawyer?

For California small claims court cases, you are not able to be represented by an attorney at the actual hearing. But, you are able to consult and speak with an attorney before or after the hearing to answer questions or discuss strategy.

Small Claims Court in Orange County

Small Claims Court is a special court whose purpose is to handle cases an efficient, inexpensive fashion. The procedures and rules of evidence for small claims court cases in Orange are the same for any County in California. These rules are meant to be simpler than a regular civil case so that a non-lawyer can understand and represent himself or herself in court. The party who files the action or claim is known as the plaintiff. The person or persons who is being sued is called the defendant. In small claims court cases in California, neither party is allowed to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing. Each party is allowed to consult with an attorney before the hearing to answer questions and discuss the case.

How much does it cost to sue in Orange County Small Claims Court?

A filing fee is required and is set relative to the amount of money you are requesting for your claim. If you filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the filing fee is:

  • $0 to $1,500 – $30
  • $1,500.01 to $5,000.00 – $50
  • $5,000.01 to $10,000.00 – $75

If a party has filed twelve or more small claims court actions over the last twelve months, the filing fee is $100.

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