Small Claims Court in Arapahoe County

In Arapahoe County, CO small claims cases are filed in the County Court. Arapahoe County has two District Courts that handle small claims, serving different jurisdictions.

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 Arapahoe Court System.

Small Claims Court

If you're considering filing a claim in Small Claims Court, you can do so for amounts up to $7,500, whether it involves money, property, contract fulfillment, or enforcing a restrictive agreement. If your claim exceeds $7,500 but you prefer to use Small Claims Court, you can limit your claim to $7,500 by forfeiting the excess amount. Keep in mind, you cannot divide a single claim into multiple cases.

Start a Claim

To initiate a claim, at least one party involved must reside, work, have a business office, attend college in Denver County, or own rental property there related to the claim. The initial document required for Small Claims Court is known as a Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for Trial. Since you'll need multiple copies of this document, it's essential to carefully follow the court's instructions for its preparation.

Cases Handled

The Small Claims Division deals with cases where individuals, partnerships, corporations, or sole proprietors file lawsuits against each other seeking monetary compensation. Some common reasons for these cases include:

  • Tenant and landlord disputes
  • Personal injury claims
  • Theft or loss of property
  • Property damage disputes
  • Debt collection matters
  • Disputes over auto repairs
  • Issues related to poor construction work
  • Claims involving product defects
  • Breach of contracts or verbal agreements

These are typical examples, but the scope of cases handled by the Small Claims Division may extend to various other disputes where financial compensation is sought.

Judicial Officer

Your case in Small Claims Court will be adjudicated by either a Magistrate or a Judge. If you prefer a Judge to preside over your case instead of a Magistrate, you must submit an Objection to a Magistrate Hearing Case at least seven days before the trial date specified in your notice. It's crucial to understand that regardless of whether a Magistrate or a Judge hears your case, all rules and procedures of the Small Claims Court will be upheld.

Attorney

If the defendant(s) wish(es) to have legal representation, either they or their attorney must submit a Notice of Representation by Attorney at least seven days before the trial date indicated in the notice. Once this notice is filed, the plaintiff(s) may also opt to be represented by an attorney. If one party is already represented by an attorney, the other party can likewise have legal representation without filing a notice.

It's essential to note that regardless of attorney involvement, all rules and procedures of the Small Claims Court remain in effect throughout the proceedings.

Interpreter

If you or a witness needs a language interpreter for your hearings, there are several ways to request assistance. You can submit your request online, contact the Clerk’s Office in Room 135 of the City and County Building at 720-865-7840, or inform the courtroom clerk on the day of your appearance. During the hearing, the role of the language interpreter is strictly limited to interpreting conversations between parties and discussions immediately before or after the hearing. They are not permitted to provide legal advice or engage in any activities unrelated to their interpreting duties. Interpreters must uphold their Code of Professional Responsibility, ensuring they maintain ethical standards throughout the proceedings.

Subpoenas

If you need witnesses to appear or bring documents for your trial, you can obtain a subpoena from the clerk at Room 135 of the City and County Building. You also have the option to download a subpoena form in advance. It is your responsibility to complete all necessary details on the subpoena and ensure it is properly issued and served.

Subpoenas must be personally served by an individual who is at least 18 years old and not involved in the case, and who understands the Rules of Service. Along with the subpoena, you must include a check to cover witness fees and mileage for any witnesses being served. This ensures that witnesses are compensated for their time and travel expenses related to attending your trial.

Serving the Defendant

When delivering legal documents in a Small Claims Court case, it's vital to adhere to these guidelines:

  1. Defendant's Copy: Ensure Part 2 of the form is delivered to the Defendant. If there are multiple Defendants, each must receive a separate copy. Photocopies are acceptable, but make sure pages 3, 4, and 5 are included if using a photocopy.
  2. Who Can Serve: Delivery must be carried out by someone over 18 years old who is not involved in the case, or by the Sheriff. Plaintiffs are not permitted to deliver the documents themselves. Certified mail can be an option, but only if arranged through the clerk’s office, with costs covered by the Plaintiff.
  3. Affidavit of Service: Submit a fully completed Affidavit of Service (Part 4) for each Defendant served. This document serves as proof that the documents were properly delivered.
  4. Professional Service: Alternatively, the Sheriff’s office or professional process servers can handle the delivery. They have the expertise to complete the required affidavits of service accurately.

Counterclaim

When preparing your Answer and Counterclaim in response to a Small Claims Court case, follow these steps:

  1. Completing Part 2: Defendants should fill out Part 2 of the Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for Trial before the scheduled trial date.
  2. Content of Response: Your response can be brief or detailed as needed, with additional pages attached if necessary. Clearly explain why you dispute the claim.
  3. Including a Counterclaim: If you have a claim against any Plaintiff, include it in your response. Use the same guidelines as for the original claim.
  4. Related to Original Claim: Your counterclaim must be connected to the same situation as the Plaintiff’s original claim to be considered valid.
  5. Exceeding $7,500: If your counterclaim exceeds $7,500, you can opt to transfer the case to County or District Court.
  6. Options and Signatures: Check the appropriate box on the form for the counterclaim and sign and date the response and/or counterclaim.
  7. Filing Deadline: Ensure everything is filed on or before the trial date.

Filing Cost

Filing Fees for Notice, Claim, and Summons to Appear for Trial:

Plaintiff’s Claim:

  • Up to $500.00: $31.00
  • $500.01 to $7,500.00: $55.00

Defendant’s Response (without counterclaim):

  • Up to $500.00: $26.00
  • $500.01 to $7,500.00: $41.00

Defendant’s Response (with counterclaim):

  • Counterclaim up to $500.00: $31.00
  • $500.01 to $7,500.00: $46.00

Miscellaneous Fees:

  • Certificate of Dismissal: $20.00
  • Certificate of Satisfaction: $20.00
  • Certification Fee: $20.00
  • Certified Mail: $15.00
  • Contempt Citation: $70.00
  • Copies (per page): $0.75
  • District Court Appellant Fee: $163.00
  • District Court Appellee Fee: $158.00
  • Transcript of Judgment: $25.00
  • Writ of Garnishment: $45.00

These fees are current as of the last update and may be subject to change. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it's advisable to contact the Denver County Court directly or visit their official website.

Preparing for the Court Trial

To prepare effectively for your Small Claims Court trial, follow these steps:

  1. Attend a Small Claims Trial (Optional): If possible, attend a trial beforehand to familiarize yourself with courtroom procedures. Trials are typically held Monday through Thursday at 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 104.
  2. Gather Evidence: Collect and organize all relevant evidence that supports your case, such as documents, photographs, receipts, and any other exhibits. Make sure to label them clearly. Prepare copies for both the other party and the court. If you need the court to make copies for you, be prepared to cover copy fees.
  3. Prepare Witnesses: Decide if you need witnesses to testify on your behalf. Make sure they are willing to appear voluntarily. If necessary, serve them with a subpoena to ensure their attendance at the trial.
  4. Highlight Key Issues: Before your court appearance, outline the main points and arguments you intend to emphasize during the trial. Taking notes during the trial, especially during witness testimony, can help you keep track of important details.
  5. Courtroom Etiquette: Be punctual for your trial. Turn off your cell phone upon entering the courtroom. Show respect to everyone involved, including the judge, court staff, and the other party.
  6. Consider Settlement Discussions: There may be an opportunity to discuss settlement with the other party before the trial begins. This can potentially resolve your claim without the need for a full trial.

By following these steps, you can better prepare yourself for your Small Claims Court trial, ensuring you present your case effectively and navigate the proceedings with confidence.

After the Court Trial

After your court trial in Small Claims Court, here are the potential outcomes and responsibilities you should be aware of:

  1. Judgment and Amount: The Magistrate or Judge will determine the winner based on the presented facts and may specify the amount of money to be awarded.
  2. Award of Costs: The prevailing party may also receive an award of costs, which could cover filing fees, service fees, and witness fees if applicable.
  3. Collection Responsibility: If you are awarded a judgment, it is your responsibility to collect the money owed. The court does not assist in this process.
  4. Motion & Order for Interrogatories: In certain situations, the court may issue a Motion & Order for Interrogatories to help identify the debtor's sources of income, bank accounts, and property. This information can aid in collecting the judgment.

It's crucial to understand these potential outcomes and your obligations following your Small Claims Court trial.

Mediation

In Small Claims Court, mediation can be an option either voluntarily or as mandated on your trial day. Mediation involves a neutral third party who guides both sides toward a mutually acceptable agreement. Here’s what you should understand about mediation:

  1. Purpose: The mediator facilitates discussions between you and the other party to help find a resolution that both sides agree upon.
  2. Preparation: It’s important to bring all relevant legal documents, financial records, and any other information related to your dispute to the mediation session.

Mediation offers a constructive alternative to a full court trial, allowing both parties to actively participate in reaching a resolution that satisfies their interests.

Mediation Outcomes

In mediation, there are several possible outcomes:

  1. Stipulation/Agreement: You and the other party may reach a mutual agreement or stipulation to resolve the dispute. You will need to prepare a Stipulation form that outlines the agreed-upon terms. Both parties must sign this form and submit it to the court.
  2. Agreement on Debt Owed: If the dispute involves money owed and both parties agree on the amount and payment terms, you will prepare a Stipulation form detailing these agreements. Both parties must sign the form and provide it to the court. If immediate payment is made, the case can be dismissed.
  3. No Agreement Reached: If mediation does not result in an agreement or stipulation, then the case proceeds to a court trial as originally scheduled. Mediation offers a valuable opportunity for parties to resolve their disputes outside of court through mutual understanding and agreement.

Settlement

If you come to a settlement in your case before the court date, here's what you should do:

  1. File a Notice of Dismissal: The Plaintiff, who initiated the case, needs to submit a written Notice of Dismissal to the Court. You can do this by visiting room 135 of the City and County Building, sending it by mail, or by appearing on the scheduled court date and informing the clerk in the courtroom about the dismissal.
  2. Written Notice: Make sure the Notice of Dismissal is in writing and clearly states that the case is being dismissed because of the settlement agreement reached between the parties.

Appeal

Appealing a case in Denver County Court involves requesting the Denver District Court to review the lower court's decision. Here's what you need to understand:

  1. Nature of Appeal: An appeal is not a retrial but a review where the Denver District Court examines the record of what occurred in Denver County Court. Its aim is to determine if any legal errors affected the trial's outcome.
  2. Appeal Outcome: To succeed, the appellant must show the District Court that errors were made in County Court that unfairly influenced the trial's fairness. The focus is on ensuring a fair process rather than demanding perfection.
  3. Legal Errors: Minor mistakes are unlikely to lead to a successful appeal unless they significantly impacted the appellant's right to a fair trial.
  4. Result of Winning an Appeal: If successful, the Denver District Court will reverse or modify the County Court's decision. This could lead to the case being sent back to County Court for another trial or further proceedings.

Collecting your Judgment

After the court enters a Judgment Order, here are the options available to the party awarded money, known as the "judgment creditor," and the party who owes money, known as the "judgment debtor":

  1. Enforcement of Judgment: The judgment creditor can take steps to enforce the judgment. This might involve garnishing wages, placing liens on property, or executing a bank levy.
  2. Collection Timeline: A money judgment remains enforceable for six years from the date it is entered by the court.
  3. Court's Role: It's important to note that the court does not undertake the collection of the money judgment on behalf of the judgment creditor. Instead, it is the responsibility of the judgment creditor to pursue collection through legal means.

To effectively collect a judgment awarded by the court, follow these structured steps:

  1. Request Payment: Initiate the collection process by formally requesting payment from the judgment debtor. This should ideally be done in writing, clearly specifying the amount owed and providing instructions on how and where payment should be made.
  2. If Payment is Refused: In the event that the judgment debtor refuses to pay, and if you lack information about their employment, bank accounts, or property, you can proceed with filing a Motion and Order for Interrogatories with the Court.
  3. Interrogatories Process: The Court will issue an order mandating the judgment debtor to truthfully answer specific questions. These interrogatories are designed to uncover crucial details such as the debtor's employer's name, pay schedule, location of bank accounts, and any other assets they may possess.
  4. Useful Information: The responses obtained through interrogatories are vital for identifying potential sources from which the owed amount can be recovered. This information serves as a strategic asset in the collection process.
  5. Court's Role: It's important to understand that while the Court facilitates the process by compelling the judgment debtor to respond to interrogatories, it does not guarantee immediate payment. It remains the responsibility of the judgment creditor to pursue further legal avenues as needed to enforce the judgment.

Writ of Garnishment

When pursuing a Writ of Garnishment to enforce a judgment, consider these tailored options based on your circumstances:

  1. Writ of Continuing Garnishment: This method involves withholding a portion of the judgment debtor's earnings over multiple pay periods. It is effective when the debtor receives regular income, ensuring gradual satisfaction of the judgment debt.
  2. Writ of Garnishment with Notice of Exemption & Pending Levy: This writ targets an individual's non-earnings personal property to satisfy the judgment debt. It includes notifying the debtor of their right to claim exemptions on certain assets and informs them of the possibility of a levy on their property.
  3. Writ of Garnishment – Judgment Debtor other than Natural Person: Designed for entities like corporations or limited partnerships, this writ allows for the withholding of their non-earnings personal property to settle the judgment debt.

Each type of writ is purpose-built to address specific scenarios based on whether the debtor is an individual with regular income, an individual with non-wage assets, or a non-individual entity. Understanding these options is essential for selecting the appropriate garnishment method to effectively collect the judgment debt.

Lien Against Property

To request a lien against property after obtaining a judgment in Small Claims Court, follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Transcript of Judgment Form: Fill out the Transcript of Judgment form provided by the court. This document summarizes the details of the judgment and is necessary for initiating the lien process.
  2. File the Form with the Court: Submit the completed Transcript of Judgment form to the court where the judgment was issued. Along with filing, you'll need to pay the required filing fee as determined by the court.
  3. Receive the Transcript of Judgment: After filing and paying the fee, the court clerk will issue the Transcript of Judgment to you. This document serves as proof of the judgment and is essential for placing a lien on the debtor's property.
  4. Record the Lien with the County Clerk and Recorder: Take the issued Transcript of Judgment to the County Clerk and Recorder's office in the county where the judgment debtor owns property. They will officially record the lien against the debtor's property.
  5. Lien Duration: The recorded lien remains in effect for 6 years from the date it is recorded with the County Clerk and Recorder. During this period, it secures your right to collect the judgment from the debtor's property through legal means.

After your Collect the Judgment

After successfully collecting your judgment in Small Claims Court, follow these important steps:

  1. Complete a Satisfaction of Judgment: Fill out the Satisfaction of Judgment form, indicating that the judgment debt has been paid in full. Ensure all necessary details are accurately provided.
  2. File the Satisfaction of Judgment: Submit the completed Satisfaction of Judgment form to the same court where you obtained the judgment. This notifies the court that the debt has been satisfied and concludes the legal obligation.
  3. Notify the Judgment Debtor: Mail a copy of the Satisfaction of Judgment to the judgment debtor. This serves as formal confirmation that their debt obligation has been fulfilled and legally satisfied.
  4. Release Lien on Property: If you placed a lien on property owned by the judgment debtor, notify the County Clerk and Recorder's office where the lien was recorded to release it. This step is crucial to clear the debtor's property title from any encumbrances related to your judgment.
  5. Additional Resources: For more detailed guidance, refer to the Colorado Rules of County Court Civil Procedure, particularly Rule 369 and Rule 403. These rules provide specific instructions and requirements related to satisfaction of judgments and the release of liens.

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at Arapahoe 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 Arapahoe County 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.

Courthouse Location:

  1. Arapahoe County Justice Center

    7325 S. Potomac St.
    Centennial, CO 80112
    (303) 645-6600
    https://www.coloradojudicial.gov/courts/trial-courts/arapahoe-county

    BUILDING HOURS

    • Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except court holidays.
  2. Arapahoe County Courthouse - Littleton

    1790 West Littleton Blvd
    Littleton, CO 80120
    (303) 645-6600
    https://www.coloradojudicial.gov/courts/trial-courts/arapahoe-county

    BUILDING HOURS

    • Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except court holidays.
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