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Overview of Small Claims

 Small Claims*

Forms & Filings: 

Located at the Civil Clerk's Office

City Towers Building
801 - 10th Street, 4th Floor
Modesto, CA  95354

Forms can also be found at:

Clerk's Office hours: 

8:00 AM to 12:00 PM  Monday - Friday


Please check the Fee Schedule for current filing fees.

Court Trials: 

Please see Court Monitors located in the lobby at 800 11th Street, Modesto,or inquire with the Clerk's office at 801 10th St. 4th Floor, Modesto, for the specific courtroom department where your hearing is being assigned.

Parties must bring all witnesses, books, receipts, and other papers or items to support their claim or defense. Each party will have the chance to prove or dispute the claim and is allowed to question both its own witnesses and the opposing party's witnesses.


Small Claims are limited to disputes of $10,000* or less for individuals and $5,000 or less for businesses. You cannot file more than two cases in Small Claims Court for more than $2500 per calendar year (Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 116.231)

*Except for personal injury claims arising from an auto accident where defendant is covered by an insurance policy that includes a duty to defend.

Claims filed by businesses:

Commencing April 29, 2013, claims filed by business must be dropped either in the drop box located in the lobby or at the Clerk's Office Small Claims window.  Claims will be deemed filed the date of receipt and will be processed and ready for pick up the next business day.  Filing parties may return the next business day to pick up their filings or provide the Court with a self addressed stamped envelope for returning their copies.  Claims will not be filed if an Authorization to Appear (SC-109) is not submitted at the time of filing the Claim.


Doing Business Under a Ficticious Business Name?

If the Plaintiff operates or does business under a fictitious business name and the claim relates to that business, the plaintiff must file a declaration stating that he or she has executed, filed and published a fictitious business name statement as required by law.  (Code of Civil Procedure  § 116.430(a).)  This can be accomplished by filing, along with your Claim, the SC-103 form. 
Note:  The Court must dismiss a small claims action if Plaintiff has not complied with the fictitious business name laws.  (Code of Civil Procedure §116.430(b).)

Free Mediation & Advisory services are available in English and Spanish.


Mediation is an opportunity to settle your case either before you file a claim, after you file or on the day of trial.  A trained mediator meets with both parties, helping to achieve a resolution that is agreeable to both sides.  The Court encourages people to take advantage of the free mediation services offered at the Stanislaus County Mediation Center by calling (209) 236-1577 or visiting their web site at for further information.

Why Try Mediation:

  • It’s Free - There is no cost to residents or businesses in Stanislaus County.
  • It’s Fast - Mediation can be scheduled within a few days and the results are immediate. If the Court hears your case, you may not receive a decision from the Court for 90 days.
  • It’s Private - Everything said in mediation is confidential.
  • It’s Fair - The mediator doesn’t take sides or tell you what to do.
  • It's Informal - You don’t have to go through a court hearing.


The Stanislaus County Small Claims Advisor provides general assistance on small claims forms, procedures, and common small claims issues.  The advisor can explain your options, help you understand and fill out small claims forms, and offer suggestions about how to prepare your case or defense.  The advisor cannot represent you at your hearing.  Go to the Small Claims link on the menu at left for further information or Click here.


It is important that you file your Small Claims action in the right court or "venue".  The right court may be the court in the county:

  • Where the defendant lives or where the business is located;
  • Where the damage or accident occurred;
  •  Where the contract was entered into or is to be carried out;
  • Where the contract was breached, if the defendant is a corporation;
  • For a retail installment account, where the buyer lives, where the contract was signed or where the goods are permanently kept.

Forms assistance is available at the Superior Court Self Help Center at the following times and location:

 Self Help Office Hours

Monday - Thursday
8:00 AM - 12:00 PM  and 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
(Closed for lunch 12:00 PM to 1 PM)

CLOSED Fridays


Superior Court of Stanislaus County
800 - 11th Street, Room 220 
Modesto, California

You can also visit the Self-Help Center at the California Courts website at




Last Updated: 12/31/2013 02:03:50 PM

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