Small Claims Court in Harris County

In Harris County, Texas small claims cases are typically filed in a Justice court and heard by the Justice of the Peace. Each township in Harris County has its own Justice Court and Justice of the Peace that handles small claims cases. There are three Justice of Courts that manage small claims for all cities within Harris 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 Harris Court System.

Small Claims Court

The Texas Small Claims Court was established under Chapter 28 of the Texas Government Code. It shares jurisdiction with the Justice Court for cases where the amount of money involved is $20,000 or less, not including court costs. Jurisdiction refers to the court's authority to hear a case, assess its merits, and issue a valid judgment.

Reasons to File a Small Claims Suit

Small claims court can handle various types of claims, including:

  • Money debts
  • Personal injury
  • Property damage
  • Tenant/Landlord Dispute
  • Stolen Property
  • Auto Repair
  • Poor Construction
  • Product Defect
  • Broken Contracts or Verbal Promises

It's always advisable to try to resolve disputes out of court first. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, filing a small claims complaint might be necessary.

Presiding Judge

The judge in the Small Claims Court is the Justice of the Peace.

Who Cannot File Claims

Certain individuals and entities cannot file claims in Small Claims Court:

  • An assignee (someone who has been transferred a claim)
  • Money lenders (those who lend money with interest)
  • Collection agents or agencies

These restrictions ensure that the court is used by individuals directly involved in disputes.


In Small Claims Court, individuals can represent themselves or hire an attorney. Corporations can also appear without an attorney but must provide proof that the person appearing has the authority to represent the corporation.

Designation of Parties

In legal terms:

  • The person who files the lawsuit is the "Plaintiff."
  • The person being sued is the "Defendant."

Filing Small Claims Cases

Claim Must Be Made Under Oath

To start a case in Small Claims Court, the plaintiff must make a statement under oath. This can be done in two ways:

  • Appear in person before the Justice of the Peace or the clerk and file a statement of the claim under oath.
  • File a sworn Small Claims Petition with the Justice of the Peace or clerk.

Filing Fee

The filing fee for a Small Claims case is $34. Additional fees for civil legal services and alternative dispute resolution may apply.

Issuance of Citation

After filing the claim and paying the fee, the Justice of the Peace or clerk will issue a "citation," which notifies the defendant of the lawsuit. The citation includes the date of filing, case number, parties involved, and the plaintiff's demand. It also warns the defendant that failing to appear may result in a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Service of Citation

The citation must be served to the defendant by an authorized officer, either in person or by registered/certified mail. If attempts to serve the defendant fail, the plaintiff can request alternative methods of service. These requests must be supported by an affidavit and can be authorized by the Justice of the Peace.

Service Fees in Harris County

In Harris County, the fee for service of process is $75. For service outside Harris County, the plaintiff should contact the relevant county's constable or sheriff for fee information.

The Defendant

A judgment cannot be rendered against a defendant unless they are properly served. Defendants can be individuals, sole proprietorships, partnerships, or corporations. Service must be executed on an authorized person or agent of the business entity.


Small Claims suit must be filed in the county and precinct where the defendant resides or where they have contracted to perform an obligation. If multiple Justice of the Peace courts are available, the plaintiff can choose among them.

Motion to Transfer Venue

A defendant can request to transfer the case to a different precinct if they believe the original venue is incorrect. This request must be in writing and state why the venue is improper and where it should be transferred.

Failure to Appear

If the defendant does not appear after being properly served, the Justice of the Peace may issue a default judgment for the plaintiff. If the plaintiff does not appear, the case may be dismissed, but it can be refiled later. Either party can request the court to set aside the judgment within ten days, providing a good reason for their absence.

Certificate of Last Known Address

When requesting a default judgment, the plaintiff must file a Certificate of Last Known Address to ensure the court can notify the defendant of the judgment.

Military Status Affidavit

The plaintiff must file a Military Status Affidavit stating whether the defendant is in military service. This is required under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.


Discovery in Small Claims Court is limited and at the judge's discretion.

Jury Trial

Either party can request a jury trial, which must be done at least one day before the hearing. The jury fee is $22.


If a party cannot attend the scheduled hearing, they may request a continuance to reschedule. The Justice of the Peace may grant this for a valid reason.

The Hearing

The hearing is informal, and both parties should be prepared to present their case concisely with evidence and witnesses. The Justice of the Peace may ask questions to clarify facts.


The judge will issue a judgment at the end of the hearing. If the judgment favors the plaintiff, the defendant must pay the amount owed immediately.

Right to Appeal

If either party is dissatisfied with the judgment and the amount in controversy is over $250, they can appeal to the County Civil Courts at Law. The appeal must be filed within ten days, and an Appeal Bond must be posted. If the appellant cannot afford the costs, they can file a pauper's affidavit.

Hearing on Appeal

Once an appeal is filed, the original Small Claims Court judgment is void, and the case is retried in County Civil Court. The parties must present their evidence and testimony anew. The judgment from the County Civil Court can also be appealed to the Court of Appeals.

Harris County Justice Courts: Court Costs and Fees

Court costs and fees for various services in the Harris County Justice of Peace Small Claims Process Service Fees:

  1. Small Claims Case Filing Fee:
    • Court Cost: $15.00
    • Service Fee: $65.00
    • Total: $80.00
  2. Counterclaim Filing Fee:
    • Court Cost: $15.00
    • Service Fee: $65.00
    • Total: $80.00
  3. Subpoena Duces-Tecum ($10.00 witness fee must be paid to the witness by the person who summons the witness):
    • Service Fee: $65.00
    • Total: $65.00
  4. Subpoena Duces-Tecum ($10.00 witness fee must be paid to the witness by the person who summons the witness):
    • Service Fee: $65.00
    • Total: $65.00
  5. Abstract of Judgment:
    • Court Cost: $5.00
    • Total: $5.00
  6. Writ of Execution:
    • Court Cost: $5.00
    • Service Fee: $75.00
    • Total: $80.00
  7. Certified Copies:
    • Court Cost: $2.00 first page
    • Service Fee: $0.25 for each additional page

These fees include the costs associated with filing a small claims case and the service fees for serving the defendant(s)​ (Harris County JP 2.2).

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at Harris 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 Harris 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 Locations:

  1. Precinct 1, Place 1

    7300 N. Shepherd Drive
    Houston, TX 77091
    (713) 697-1224


    • Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., except court holidays
  2. Precinct 2, Place 2

    101 S Richey St.
    Pasadena, TX 77506
    (713) 274-6100


    • Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., except court holidays
    • Closed for lunch 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  3. Precinct 5, Place 1

    6000 Chimney Rock Rd #102
    Houston, TX 77081
    (713) 661-2276


    • Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., except court holidays
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