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This section includes a checklist to help guide you through the small claims process. Also, included are the local forms used in small claims and a link to Judicial Council for their forms.

Checklist
For Plaintiff

Before filing your claim:

  1. Contact the other party to discuss and try to resolve the problem.
  2. Determine the exact amount in dispute. Be prepared to substantiate and verify the dollar amount of your damages. See the OVERVIEW for more information on Monetary Limits for Small Claims Court.
  3. Know the correct and complete name of the party you are intending to sue. If you’re suing a business, it’s important to know whether it’s a corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship. See HOW TO PREPARE AND FILE YOUR CLAIM.
  4. Familiarize yourself with Small Claims Court procedures (read this web site or make an appointment to speak with the Small Claims Advisor if you have specific questions you have been unable to get answered). See RESOURCES for more information.
  5. Know that Monterey County is the proper court or venue. See OVERVIEW for more information on Venue.
  6. File Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to Go To Small Claims Court form (SC-100) and pay the filing fee. Also file the Other Plaintiff's and Defendants form (SC100A), Fictitious Business Name Declaration, Authorization to Appear on Behalf of Party or Business Declaration, if appropriate. See FORMS below for information on the required forms.
  7. If you decide to have the clerk serve the claim by certified mail pay the additional service fee and provide a preaddressed envelope for each defendant. See HOW TO PREPARE AND FILE YOUR CLAIM.

After filing your claim:

  1. Arrange for service of process on each defendant (if you did use certified mail). Make sure the Proof of Service form is filed with the Court two (2) days prior to the hearing. See HOW TO SERVE YOUR CLAIM.
  2. Prepare for court (organize thoughts, collect evidence, talk to witnesses). Be prepared to tell your story in a brief, concise, logical way, and to prove what you say by bringing evidence such as photos, receipts, bills contracts or witnesses to support your case. However, numerous exhibits can be confusing and are not recommended. Be sure your exhibits are organized, concise and well marked. If you are claiming a service was performed improperly, have either oral or written verification by an expert in that field. For example, if you believe your vehicle was not repaired properly, have a mechanic’s statement to verify that fact. If your claim involves an auto accident, bring at least two (2) written estimates of repair costs. Review HOW TO PREPARE AND PRESENT YOUR CASE.
  3. Keep communication open; try to resolve dispute with other party before hearing.
  4. If possible, attend a court hearing in the location where your hearing will take place to observe the process.
  5. Attend the hearing and present your case.

For Defendant


  1. Contact plaintiff to discuss and try to work out dispute.
  2. Suggest or agree to try informal dispute resolution methods.
  3. Familiarize yourself with Small Claims Claims Court procedures (read this web site, or make an appointment to speak with the Small Claims Advisor if you have specific questions you have been unable to get answered). See RESOURCES for more information.
  4. If you have a claim against the plaintiff, consider resolving it at the same hearing by filing a Defendant’s Claim and Order to Plaintiff.
  5. Prepare for court hearing (organize thoughts, collect evidence, consult witnesses, etc.). Be prepared to tell your story in a brief, concise, logical way, and to prove what you say by bringing evidence such as photos, receipts, bills contracts or witnesses to support your case. However, numerous exhibits can be confusing and are not recommended. Be sure your exhibits are organized, concise and well marked. If you are claiming a service was performed improperly, have either oral or written verification by an expert in that field. For example, if you believe your vehicle was not repaired properly, have a mechanic’s statement to verify that fact. If your claim involves an auto accident, bring at least two (2) written estimates of repair costs. Review HOW TO PREPARE AND PRESENT YOUR CASE.
  6. Keep communication open; try to resolve dispute before hearing.
  7. If you owe something, try to either pay it or work out payment plan before hearing.
  8. If necessary, ask court to postpone hearing to let you and plaintiff resolve dispute informally. See HOW TO CHANGE A HEARING DATE OR CLAIM.
  9. Be aware that having a judgment entered against you may effect your credit record. Not appearing in court will not stop a court judgment from being entered.
  10. If possible, attend a court hearing in the location where your hearing will take place to observe the process.
  11. Attend hearing and present your defense.

After the Hearing: Plaintiff and Defendant

  1. If either the plaintiff or defendant did not attend the hearing for good cause ( a good reason), file a Notice of Motion to Vacate Judgment and Declaration to request new hearing by superior court. See HOW TO VACATE A DEFAULT JUDGMENT.
  2. If judgment issued against the defendant(s) who appeared at hearing, and you , the defendant, disagree with the Court’s decision on the other parties claim you may file a Notice of Appeal to request a new hearing by superior court. You can request the Notice of Appeal form from the Small Claims clerk. See HOW TO APPEAL A JUDGEMENT.
  3. If a judgment was entered the clerk will mail a Notice of Entry of Judgment form to all parties. This form was included in the form packet.
  4. Judgment debtor:
    • Take action to comply with judgment (pay judgment creditor directly or make payment to the court).
    • After payment, make sure the Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment has been filed with the Small Claims Court by the judgment creditor.
  5. Judgment creditor:
    • File Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment with Small Claims Court after judgment is satisfied (payment has been received); or
    • Take steps to collect judgment.


Once you have your checklist, you will need the following forms to complete your claim:

Small Claims Instructions/Forms Packet (SC-100)
Information for the Small Claims Plaintiff (Judicial Council Form - SC-150)
Depending on the claim you may also need the following forms:

Other Plaintiff's and Defendants (SC-100A)
Fictitious Business Name Declaration (Judicial Council Form - SC-103)
Authorization to Appear on Behalf of Party (SC-109)

Please review all instructions prior to completeing the forms.
The forms are available to pick up in person, by mail or online:

To pick up the forms in person:
You can pickup the Small Claims packet at any of the court locations. See LOCATIONS.

To have the forms mailed to you:

You can request the packet through the mail by sending your request and a self-addressed stamped envelope (S.A.S.E.) to the Monterey Court. See LOCATIONS.. Please provide adequate postage. An appropriate issuance fee for forms will apply

To receive the forms online:

The Judicial Council forms can be downloaded from http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm

NOTE: If you use downloaded forms when filing you claim you must provide the court with the following:

1 original and 3 copies - Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to Defendant (SC-100) and Other Plaintiff's and Defendants form (SC-100A), if applicable.

1 original - Fictitious Business Name Declaration (SC-103), if applicable.

1 original - Authorization to Appear on Behalf of Party (SC-109), if applicable. Note: Must be completed if someone other than the owner, president or officer of the corporation will be signing the form and/or appearing in court.

The Information for the Small Claims Plaintiff (SC-150) form is for your information, it must be reviewed but does not have to be turned in when filing your claim.

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