Table of Contents
What Is Small Claims Court?
If You Are the Plaintiff - How to File Your Claim
If You Are the Defendant - What to Expect
How to Prepare for Trial
The Small Claims Court Trial
After the Trial
Chapter 7. Appeals to District
Map & List of Legal Aid of North Carolina Offices
Blank Forms for Small Claims
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
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
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,
This booklet applies to statutes and forms current as of
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
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
**Copyright May 1990, April 1994, February 1997, March 1998, June
2001, November 2003, October 2005, Legal Aid of North Carolina,
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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.
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.