Small Claims Court Hearing in Ventura County
Your case will probably be on the same calendar and heard at the same time as a number of other small claims court cases. 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 essential to spend time preparing your case in advance. Bring any and all documents that support your case including: receipts, photos, contracts, and any other relevant documents. You should also bring other witnesses who can testify about your case. Making sure you are prepared for the hearing goes along way toward a successful outcome. 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.
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. However, you are able to talk to an attorney before or after the small claims court trial to answer questions and discuss strategy.
Which cases are filed in Ventura County?
Usually, a claim must be filed in the County where the person or business being sued resides. 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 a plaintiff is under eighteen or mentally incompetent, a judge will appoint someone (normally a relative) as a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is an adult appointed by the court to represent that person only for that case.
Statute of Limitations in Small Claims Court Cases
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 is different 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 the defendant broke an oral contract, the plaintiff must file the case within two years of the breach. If the contract was written, you have three years from the date the contract was breached or broken to file the case. 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 better to file sooner, rather than later, and let the judge decide.
Small Claims Court Locations for Ventura County
Ventura County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 2 courthouses across Ventura County. The website for Ventura County Superior court is: www.ventura.courts.ca.gov. Here are the following locations where small claims cases are heard:
Hall of Jusitce
The Hall of Jusitce is located at:800 S. Victoria Ave. Ventura, CA 93009
The phone number is: 805-654-2610
East County Division
The East County Division is located at:
The phone number is: 805-654-2610
Small Claims Court in Ventura 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 Ventura 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 party who files the action or claim is known as the plaintiff. The Defendant is the person or business that is being sued. In California small claims court cases, neither party can hire an attorney to represent them at the hearing. However, you are able to consult and speak with an attorney before or after the small claims court hearing.
How much does it cost to sue in Ventura 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.
When will my case 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. However, because of state cuts to the court’s budget, most hearings are now being set well past the seventy day mark.
What types of cases are filed in Ventura County Small Claims Court?
Many different types of cases can be filed in small claims court. The most common types are automobile accidents, property damage, rent deposit disputes, homeowners association disputes, and contractor disputes.
What is the most a person can sue for in Ventura County Small Claims Court?
The most a person can sue for in small claims court is $10,000. A corporation (or other entity that is not a natural person), cannot sue in small claims court for more than $5,000.00. A party can only file two actions that are more than $2,500 in a year. A person or corporation can file as many cases seeking $2,500.00 or less.
What is Mediation for Small Claims Court?
Your Ventura 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 may be offered before your trial or the very same day of the 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).