Can I hire a lawyer?
A party is not able to be represented by anyone else in small claims court, including an attorney or lawyer. However, you are able to talk to an attorney before or after the small claims court trial to answer questions and discuss strategy.
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.
Can I file my claim in Orange County?
Normally, a case must be filed in the County where the Defendant resides (lives for a person or business has its principle place of business). Exceptions to this include automobile accidents (which can be filed where the accident happened). A plaintiff can file a case in small claims court if the plaintiff is at least eighteen years old, or an emancipated minor. If a plaintiff is under eighteen or mentally incompetent, a judge will appoint someone (normally a relative) as a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem acts on behalf of the person and makes decisions specifically for that case only.
How long do I have to wait for my case to be heard?
Each County has its own Superior Court. The length of time between when the case is filed and when the hearing is varies for each county in California (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. Because of state cuts to the Orange County Superior Court budget, most hearings are set well past the seventy days.
Orange County Small Claims Court Limits
A person cannot sue in small claims court for more than $10,000.00. A corporation (or other corporate entity) cannot sue for more than $5,000. 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. The statute of limitations is a legal term that means the time someone has to file a claim. The statute of limitations is different depending on the type of case. If the plaintiff suffered personal injury, the statute is two years from the injury (or when you learned of the injury). (A minor has two years from his or her eighteenth birthday). If an oral contract (or oral agreement) was broken, you have two years after the agreement was broken to file your case. If a written contract was broken, you have three years from when the agreement was broken. If the defendant committed fraud, the plaintiff has three years from when the plaintiff first learned of the fraud. It can be very difficult to find out when the statute of limitations begins to run. It is far better to file the case and let the judge decide, rather than filing too late and having it dismissed.
What types of cases are filed in Orange County Small Claims Court?
Many different 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.
How can I prepare for my Small Claims Court Hearing?
Your case will probably be on the same calendar and heard at the same time as a number of other small claims court cases. The court’s schedule is busy and because of this scheduling, you will only have a few minutes to present your case. (You can pay attention to the cases that are heard before you). It is essential to spend time preparing your case in advance. You should bring all the paperwork that supports your claim (or defense) including receipts, contracts, photographs, invoices, and any other paperwork. 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.
Small Claims Court Locations for 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 Court cases are heard in Orange County:
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
Small Claims Court in Orange County
Small claims court is a special court where disputes between parties are handled quickly and inexpensively. The procedures and rules of evidence for small claims court cases in Orange are the same for any County in California. The rules are designed to be less complex and more less formal when compared to general civil cases. The person who files the lawsuit or action is called the plaintiff. The party who is being sued is known as the defendant. In California small claims court cases, neither party can hire an attorney to represent them at the hearing. But, each party can talk to and ask questions to an attorney before or after the hearing if they wish.
What is small claims court mediation?
Your Orange County Small Claims Court cases may be sent to mediation before it is heard at the actual trial or hearing. Mediation is a procedure where each side discusses the case with a third party (called the mediator), and the mediator tries to reach an agreement that both sides agree to. Mediation can occur before the trial or even on the same day as your trial. Mediation is nothing to be scared of, but rather another chance for you to explain your side of the case (which will better prepare you for the actual hearing in front of the judge).