Small Claims Court in Sacramento County

Sacramento County small claims court serves a diverse population across the Sacramento Area. There is a single Small Claims Court that manages small claims for all cities within Sacramento County.

Squabble is here to assist you in navigating the small claims court system and filing a claim with ease. We recognize that not everyone is a legal expert, and our goal is to simplify the process for you. This guide will answer your questions about filing claims in the Sacramento Court System.

Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court offers a simplified legal process for civil cases designed to be straightforward, eliminating the need for lawyers and strict rules of evidence. If you are bringing a case against someone, you are the plaintiff. If someone is bringing a case against you, you are the defendant.

Filing Your Claim

In the Small Claims Division, individuals can file claims for amounts up to $12,500, while corporations, partnerships, governmental entities, and other legal entities are limited to $6,250. Additionally, there's a restriction on the number of cases a party can file in small claims for more than $2,500 each during a calendar year—no more than two such cases are permitted.

Cases Handled

Small Claims Court deals with various situations where you can file different cases. For instance:

  • Tenant/Landlord Dispute
  • Personal Injury
  • Stolen Property
  • Damaged Property
  • Debt Collection
  • Auto Repair
  • Poor Construction
  • Product Defect
  • Broken Contracts or Verbal Promises

Who Can Sue

  • You need to be at least 18 years old to file a claim in Small Claims Court. If you're under 18, you can ask the court to appoint a guardian ad litem, who acts on your behalf.
  • Before suing, you must first demand payment from the defendant, especially if it's about property possession.
  • Usually, only the original owner of the claim can sue in Small Claims Court. If the claim is assigned to someone else, they can't sue unless they meet specific exceptions.
  • You typically need to represent yourself at the hearing, unless you're filing on behalf of a corporation or another entity. In that case, an employee, officer, or director must represent the entity.

Can I be represented by a lawyer?

You can't be represented by a lawyer in court to speak for you.

How to Prove Your Claim for Damages in Court

You need to carefully consider the amount of money you'll ask for in damages. You have to show the judge that you deserve the money you're claiming. You can prove your claim with various types of evidence:

  • A canceled check
  • Drawings
  • Letters
  • A professional estimate of damages
  • Photographs
  • Receipts
  • Statements, both yours and from witnesses
  • A warranty
  • A written contract

How much time do you have to file a small claims case

  • If you were hurt, you have 2 years from when it happened or when you found out about it. If you’re a minor, you have 2 years after you turn 18.
  • If someone broke a spoken agreement, you have 2 years from when the agreement was broken.
  • If you lost money because of fraud, you have 3 years from when you found out about it.
  • It can be tricky to know if it’s too late to file, but if you're unsure, go ahead and file your case. The judge will make the final decision.

Filling Process

To start a case, complete the Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court (SC-100) and file it with the appropriate court. Be sure to properly name the defendant(s) in the form to ensure correct identification. If you have more than 2 defendants or plaintiffs, please complete the SC-100A form and you can use as many as necessary.

Monetary Limits

The Small Claims court in Sacramento has a monetary limit, known as the jurisdictional limit, on the amount of money damages that can be claimed. Typically, the maximum amount a natural person can claim is $12,500. However, there's a restriction: you can file no more than two claims anywhere in the state for over $2,500 in one calendar year. For claims amounting to $2,500 or less, there's no limit to how many you can file.

Where to file your case

Where you file your case matters. You have to file it in the right Small Claims Court or location. On your Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court (SC-100) form, you need to explain why you think you've picked the correct place to file.

If you file in the wrong county or the wrong court within the correct county, the judge might move the case to the right place or even dismiss it. Then, you'd have to file again in the right location and pay the filing fee again. Usually, you file where the defendant lives. But there are some exceptions to this rule, for instance:

  1. Automobile accident:
    • Accident occurred
    • Defendant lives
  2. Contract:
    • Contract was signed
    • Contract was to be performed by the defendant
    • You were to be paid
  3. A consumer purchase and you are the seller:
    • Defendant signed the contract
    • Defendant lived when the contract was signed
    • Defendant lived when the action was filed
    • Goods purchased on credit are installed or permanently kept
  4. A consumer purchase and you are the buyer
    • You signed the contract
    • You lived when the contract was signed
    • You lived when the action was filed

Court Fees

Here's a breakdown of the filing fees for Small Claims court cases in Sacramento County:

  • $0 – $1500: Filing Fee - $30
  • $1,500.01 - $5,000: Filing Fee - $50
  • $5,000.01 - $12,500: Filing Fee - $75

Please note:

  • Only individuals, not businesses, can sue for amounts over $5,000.
  • If you file more than 12 cases in 12 months, you must pay a $100 filing fee.
  • Additional fees may apply for extra copies of documents.

Serving Notice

  1. Personal Service: Serve the documents directly to the defendant at least 15 days before the court date if they are in Sacramento County, or at least 20 days before if they are outside the county.
  2. Substituted Service: If you can't find the defendant, you can leave the documents with another adult at their home or workplace. Ensure the documents are in an envelope with the defendant's name, and the server must state they are for a legal case. This must be done at least 25 days before the court date if in Sacramento County, or 30 days before if outside. Also, mail a second copy of the claim to the defendant at the same address via first-class mail.
  3. Using Officials or Process Servers: You can use officials like the Sheriff or Constable in the defendant's county of residence, or hire a private process server. Ensure the completed proof of service is returned to the Small Claims court before the court date.
  4. By Anyone 18 or Older: Anyone not involved in the case who is at least 18 years old can serve the documents. They must fill out a proof of service form, and it's your responsibility to ensure it's returned to the court before the court date.
  5. No Certified Mail Service: The court no longer offers service by certified mail, and you cannot send certified mail yourself.

Preparing for Court

What to Bring

Make sure to bring all your evidence with you to court. It's advisable to have extra copies in case the judge needs to review them. You can provide the additional copies to the judge, but remember to keep your own copy for reference during questioning. Your evidence may consist of items such as a written contract, receipts, photographs, and statements from yourself or witnesses.

What to Do

Before your court date, there are several things you can do to prepare:

  • Check your facts and make sure everything is accurate.
  • Gather all your evidence.
  • Make sure your witnesses are ready to testify.
  • Spend some time thinking about what you'll say to the judge, considering:
  • Questions the judge might ask.
  • Points you want to make.
  • What the other party might say and what evidence they might present.
  • Planning ahead will help you present a stronger case.

When I arrive to court

On your scheduled court day, aim to arrive early to allow ample time to locate the correct room. Look for your name on a list posted outside the courtroom. If you don't see your name or if the list is unavailable, don't hesitate to seek assistance from the small claims clerk. Once inside, either the judge, court clerk, or bailiff will provide an overview of the proceedings and confirm the attendees for their respective hearings. It's essential for everyone involved to pledge to tell the truth.

  • Remember, the order of cases might not match the list, so stay in the courtroom until your case is called.
  • When it's your turn, both you and the other person involved will be called. If you're the one who filed the case, you'll speak first.

Here's what you should do

  • Be honest and stick to the facts.
  • Stay calm and focused, even if you're upset.
  • Show respect to the judge and the other person.
  • Address the judge directly, not the other person.
  • If you don't understand something, ask the judge politely to explain.
  • Most importantly, keep your voice calm and don’t raise your voice, whether you're talking to the judge or the other person.
  • You'll only have a few minutes to explain your side of the story, so keep it brief and to the point. The judge is mainly interested in hearing the facts and may ask for any evidence you have to support your case.


Parties can settle before or during the trial:

  • You can ask the court to delay the hearing to give you and the other person a chance to settle things outside of court. If you reach an agreement before the court date, the plaintiff (the person who filed the case) can choose to dismiss the case. If it’s your court date, you can still reach a settlement. If you do, the judge might:
  • Give you more time to work out the details
  • Dismiss the case without closing the door for future action
  • Postpone the hearing for a short while to allow for any payments to be made
  • Make the terms of your agreement part of the official court record
  • It's important that both sides agree to the settlement. The plaintiff should receive full payment before officially asking the court to dismiss the case (using form CIV-110). Once this form is filed, it serves as proof of payment, and the case will be closed for good.

If one of the parties does not show up to court

If the person who filed a lawsuit (the plaintiff) doesn't show up, it means they're in default. The judge might do a few things:

  • Reschedule the case
  • Dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning it can't be filed again)
  • Dismiss the case without prejudice (meaning it can be filed again)
  • Decide against the plaintiff after considering the defendant's evidence.

If the defendant doesn't show up; the judge will check if they were properly notified of the court date.

  • If the Proof of Service (SC-104) shows the notice was done correctly, the judge may proceed with the case.
  • The plaintiff still needs to prove their claim with evidence before a default judgment is made.
  • Just because the defendant isn't in court doesn't mean the judge will automatically decide against them.

Collecting Your Court Judgment

To get the money you've won in court:

  • If you've won your case, you're now the judgment creditor. This means you have the right to collect the money owed to you. The judgment becomes final 30 days after you receive the Notice of Entry of Judgment in court or by mail.
  • If the other party, the defendant, doesn't appeal or contest the judgment within this time, you can start collecting what you're owed.
  • As the judgment creditor, make sure the person or company who owes you money, known as the judgment debtor, knows about the judgment and where to send payments.
  • You can work with them to arrange how they'll pay you. You might agree to receive payments in installments over time or forgive any interest they owe if they pay you the full amount.

Appeals and Judgment Modification

  • Parties can appeal within 30 days if dissatisfied with the judgment.
  • Clerical errors in judgments can be corrected within 30 days.

Satisfaction of Judgment

File an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment form when the judgment is paid in full within 14 days of request by the debtor.

Courthouse Location

Carol Miller Justice Center

301 Bicentennial Cir #300
Sacramento, CA 95826


  • Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (except court holidays)

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at San Francisco County

Don't allow the intricacies of the legal system to discourage you from pursuing justice and compensation for your claim. With Squabble, you have a dedicated partner to streamline the process and guide you toward resolution. Whether you're contemplating filing a claim at Sacramento small claims court, Squabble is here to support you at every stage. Reach out to us today to commence your journey toward justice and compensation. Get started today and become one of the 95% of our customers who won or settled their case.

Terms of UseTerms of Privacy

© 2023 Squabble International, Inc. Patent Pending. All Rights Reserved.