"A Guide to Small Claims Court"

Also: En Español

 
Table of Contents

   Introduction
   Chapter 1. What Is Small Claims Court?
   Chapter 2. If You Are the Plaintiff - How to File Your Claim
   Chapter 3. If You Are the Defendant - What to Expect
   Chapter 4. How to Prepare for Trial
   Chapter 5. The Small Claims Court Trial
   Chapter 6. After the Trial
   Chapter 7. Appeals to District Court
   Appendix
   Map & List of Legal Aid of North Carolina Offices
   Blank Forms for Small Claims Court
 

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Introduction

Anyone 18 or over has the right to start a lawsuit in the North Carolina court system. If the lawsuit is for a claim of $5,000 or less, it can be brought into Small Claims Court, which is available in every county.  A person usually does not need a lawyer in Small Claims Court, whether that person is bringing the suit or defending against the suit.  In some cases, though, you might need a lawyer, especially involving possible eviction by a landlord.
 
This booklet is a guide to help you handle your own case in Small Claims Court.  It tells you how to fill out the right forms, prepare for trial, handle the trial, and follow through on the judge's decision.  This booklet discusses the main situations that arise.  An appendix at the end includes more details on certain issues, including where to go for more help.

 
Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc. has prepared this booklet as a public service.  Legal Aid of North Carolina, is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil  matters to low-income people in North Carolina, in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.  However, there still is not enough funding to provide legal services for all the needs of poor people in North Carolina.  Our limited staff and resources make it very difficult to represent every client who contacts us.  Hopefully this booklet can help some of those seeking services from Legal Aid of NC to help themselves.  Blank forms for you to copy and then use are included at the end of this booklet.

 
For more information, please contact the Legal Aid of North Carolina office in your area [Click here to view list of offices.]. For additional information about Legal Aid of North Carolina, please visit our website, www.legalaidnc.org.
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This booklet applies to statutes and forms current as of November 2010.  Since laws apply differently in different situations and may change from time to time, you should consult a lawyer for special advice on your case.  Some counties may still be using old forms which differ from some of the ones in this booklet, or may be using an earlier version of this booklet. 
 
This booklet should be available in every county, at the office of the Clerk of Superior Court. Be aware, however, that the people who work in these offices cannot help you fill out any forms or give any legal advice.  It is against the law for them to do this.
 
We appreciate the help of the following attorneys, all familiar with Small Claims Court: Rob Schofield and Bill Rowe of the N.C. Justice and Community Development Center, and Celia Pistolis of Legal Aid of North Carolina Services.  They reviewed this version of the booklet to assure publication of the most current information.
 
Special thanks go to the Administrative Office of the Courts and its director, whose support made possible the distribution of this booklet to the offices of the Clerk of Superior Court throughout the state.
 
William Finger, former LSNC Public Affairs Coordinator, and Carol Spruill, former LSNC Deputy Director, co-authored the first version of this booklet in 1990.  Graphic design by Carol Majors of Publications Unlimited.  Copyright May 1990, April 1994, February 1997, March 1998, June 2001, Legal Services of North Carolina, Inc.

 

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**Copyright May 1990, April 1994, February 1997, March 1998, June 2001, November 2003, October 2005, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc.**
 

  Appendix | Table of Contents |   Next Chapter
 

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Disclaimer

The materials contained on this website are for information and educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.  Also please note that Legal Aid of North Carolina does not provide legal assistance by E-mail. Contact your Legal Aid of North Carolina office or a private attorney if you need to speak to an attorney regarding your particular situation.
See our complete disclaimer.

Mission Statement

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.

 

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