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Small Claims Division

Small Claims Court

Welcome to the Small Claims Division of The Superior Court of California, County of Stanislaus.  Disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively in Small Claims Court, where the rules are simple and informal. Litigants may not be represented by an attorney.

Forms

Small claims forms can be downloaded here.

Court Trials

Small Claims Court Trials are heard in Department 19 located in Turlock, CA.

Parties must bring all witnesses, books, receipts and other papers or items to support their claim or defense. Each party will have the chance to prove or dispute the claim and is allowed to question both its own witnesses and the opposing party's witnesses.

Jurisdiction

Small Claims are limited to disputes of $12,500* or less for individuals and $6,250 or less for businesses. You cannot file more than two cases in Small Claims Court for more than $2,500 per calendar year (Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 116.231)

*Except for personal injury claims arising from an auto accident where defendant is covered by an insurance policy that includes a duty to defend.

Claims filed by businesses

Claims filed by businesses must be dropped either in the Drop Box located in the lobby or at the Clerk's Office in Turlock. Claims will be deemed filed the date of receipt and will be processed and ready for pick up the next business day. Filing parties may return the next business day to pick up their filings or provide the Court with a self-addressed stamped envelope for returning their copies. Claims will not be filed if an Authorization to Appear (SC-109) is not submitted at the time of filing the Claim.

Doing Business Under a Fictitious Business Name?

If the plaintiff operates or does business under a fictitious business name and the claim relates to that business, the plaintiff must file a declaration stating that he or she has executed, filed and published a fictitious business name statement as required by law. (Code of Civil Procedure § 116.430(a). This can be accomplished by filing, along with your Claim, the SC-103 form. Note: The Court must dismiss a small claims action if plaintiff has not complied with the fictitious business name laws. (Code of Civil Procedure §116.430(b).)

Free mediation and advisory services are available in English and Spanish.

Mediation

Mediation is an opportunity to settle your case either before you file a claim, after you file or on the day of trial. A trained mediator meets with both parties, helping to achieve a resolution that is agreeable to both sides. 

Why Try Mediation

  • It’s Free - There is no cost to residents or businesses in Stanislaus County.
  • It’s Fast - Mediation can be scheduled within a few days and the results are immediate. If the Court hears your case, you may not receive a decision from the Court for 90 days.
  • It’s Private - Everything said in mediation is confidential.
  • It’s Fair - The mediator does not take sides or tell you what to do.
  • It's Informal - You do not have to go through a court hearing.

Click on the button below to find more about the Mediation Services.

Mediation

Small Claim Advisor

The Stanislaus County Small Claims Advisor provides general assistance on small claims forms, procedures and common small claims issues. The advisor can explain your options, help you understand and fill out small claims forms and offer suggestions about how to prepare your case or defense. The advisor cannot represent you at your hearing. For further information, go to Advisory Service page.

Venue

It is important that you file your Small Claims action in the right court or "venue". The right court may be the court in the county:

  • Where the defendant lives or where the business is located;
  • Where the damage or accident occurred;
  • Where the contract was entered into or is to be carried out;
  • Where the contract was breached, if the defendant is a corporation;
  • For a retail installment account, where the buyer lives, where the contract was signed or where the goods are permanently kept.

Forms assistance is available at the Stanislaus Court's  Self-Help Center.

You can also visit the Self-Help Center at the California Courts website.

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