Both parties may ask a lawyer about the case, but a lawyer may not represent either party in court at the small claims trial. Generally, after judgment and on appeal, both parties may be represented by a lawyer.
If you do not speak English, you may bring a family member or friend to court to translate for you. The court also has a list of interpreters you can contact. Some interpreters may be free, and some may charge a fee. If no one is available to interpret, the court must postpone the hearing one time only so that you have time to get someone.
The court charges fees for some of its procedures and servivces. The court may excuse you from paying these fees if you cannot afford them. Read the Information Sheet on Waiver of Court Fees and Costs
to find out if you meet the requirements. Submit a completed Fee Waiver
form (FW-100) when you file your claim asking the court to excuse you from paying fees, if you think you qualify.
Parties Who Are In Jail
If you are in jail, the court may excuse you from going to the trial. Instead, you may ask another person who is not an attorney to go to the trial for you. They should bring with them any documents, photos, etc., that you have to help show your side of the story. You also may mail written declarations to the court to support your case and tell your side of the story.
The law requires each county to provide assistance in small claims cases free of charge.
Information is available to all parties in SMALL CLAIMS COURT
- both plaintiffs and defendants - ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE.
Procedural information and materials are available through the Self-Help Center,both in person and over the phone. Click here
for the Self-Help Center locations, hours and phone number. If you come to a Self-Help Center for assistance, please remember to bring copies of all papers relating to your case with you and have your questions written down beforehand.