What to Expect In Small Claims Court

In North Carolina, if you are looking to sue someone, or have been sued, for money owed in the amount of $10,000 or less, your case will be considered in “Small Claims Court.” This does not include any type of child support claim, criminal offense, or traffic ticket. Small Claims Court involves civil issues about money between citizens, recovering personal property, or evictions by a landlord.

If you are the Plaintiff, you will file a complaint and pay the necessary filing fees. You must file the complaint in the county where the Defendant resides and serve the Defendant with the complaint. If you are the Defendant, you will be served with a complaint that explains what you are being sued for and tells you when your court date is.

Small Claims Court is heard by a magistrate and is usually informal and a fairly quick hearing. The Plaintiff must prove their claim by testimony and evidence and the Defendant will then have a chance to rebut and defend the Plaintiff’s claims. The magistrate may either issue their judgment as soon as the case is finished or can wait up to 10 days before issuing the judgment.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the case, you can file an appeal to District Court within 10 calendar days from the date the magistrate enters the judgment. To do so, you must file a Notice of Appeal, pay the filing fee, and serve the opposing party. Your case will then be scheduled for a court date in District Court, which is more formal than Small Claims Court, and the case is tried as if it has not already been heard in Small Claims Court. It essentially starts over at the District Court level.

While Small Claims Court is somewhat informal, you should still hire a lawyer to help you through the process. A lawyer will know exactly what forms need to be filled out, will need to be filed, and how to serve the opposing party. A lawyer will also help you during the hearing by questioning you, or any witnesses, and properly presenting evidence. Also, a lawyer will know what to do if you are unhappy with the judgment and need to file a Notice of Appeal. The attorneys here at King Law Offices will be glad to assist you with any Small Claims Court issues.