Filing Fee for Small Claims Court cases in San Joaquin County
The plaintiff must pay a filing fee when the claim is filed. If a party has filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the fee is:
- $0 to $1,500 – $30
- $1,500 to $5,000 – $50
- $5,000 to $10,000 – $75
If you filed twelve or more small claims court actions in the last twelve months, the filing fee is a constant $100.00.
What types of cases are filed in San Joaquin 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.
San Joaquin County Small Claims Court Limits
A person cannot sue in small claims court for more than $10,000.00. A business can only sue for $5,000 or less in small claims court. A party can only file two actions that are more than $2,500 in a year. A person can file as many claims asking for $2,500 or less.
Can I sue in small claims court in San Joaquin 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 party may file the claim in small claims court if that party is at least eighteen years old. A party can file as someone less than eighteen if he or she 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. This person only acts on their behalf with respect to that particular small claims court case.
Small Claims Court Locations for San Joaquin County
San Joaquin County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 1 courthouse across San Joaquin County. The website address for San Joaquin County Superior Court is: www.stocktoncourt.org. Here are the following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in San Joaquin County:
The Stockton Courthouse is located at:222 E. Weber Ave. Stockton, CA 95202
The phone number is: 209-468-2949
When will my case be heard?
Each Superior Court is responsible for one County. Time between when the case is filed to when the case is heard vary amongst each County (and even within the same County). Generally, the small claims court trial should be between twenty and seventy days after the case is filed. Because of state cuts to the San Joaquin County Superior Court budget, most hearings are set well past the seventy days.
San Joaquin County Small Claims Court Hearing
Cases in San Joaquin County are often scheduled with 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. Bring other witnesses who were present during relevant times and can provide testimony about the incident. Ensuring that you are prepared for your case goes along way to securing a successful outcome. After each side has had the opportunity to present its side, the court will make a decision. The court will either make its ruling immediately, or notify both sides of its decision through the mail (make sure your address with the court is correct).
Small Claims Court in San Joaquin 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 San Joaquin are the same for any County in California. The rules for small claims court are simple and informal compared to the rules of regular civil cases. The person or business that files the action is the plaintiff. The party who is being sued is known as the defendant. For small claims court cases in California, neither the plaintiff or the defendant is allowed to 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.
Small Claims Court Mediation
San Joaquin County Superior Court may offer mediation for your claim before the actual trial. 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 may be offered on the day of your actual court hearing, but before you see the judge. Mediation may work for your case, but at the very least, it will give you the chance to explain your case to someone (before you explain it to the judge).
Can I hire an attorney?
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 time do I have to file my case?
All cases must be filed by 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 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 to file a case). If an oral contract (or oral agreement) was broken, you have two years after the agreement was broken to file your case. If the contract was written, you have three years from the date the contract was breached or broken to file the case. If the defendant committed fraud, the plaintiff has three years from when the plaintiff first learned of the fraud. It is often difficult to find out when it is too late to file. It is better to file your case sooner, and let the judge decide, rather than later and lose having your case heard.