Many people do not realize that there are two distinct court systems in California – criminal and civil. Only the District Attorney can bring an action in criminal court. Therefore, if an individual, organization, or corporation wishes to bring a lawsuit, they must go to civil court. Once in California civil court, there are three different levels to choose from and each has it’s own requirements.
First is Small Claims Court. If you are going to request that the Court award you $10,000 or less, then you must bring your case in Small Claims Court. Attorneys are not allowed in Small Claims, but generally speaking, the process is quicker then other courts, and the rules of evidence are more relaxed. While attorneys are not allowed to represent a party in Small Claims, a party may consult with an attorney before their hearing date to order to help prepare the case.
Next is what is known as California Superior Court – Limited Jurisdiction. In a Limited Jurisdiction Court, a party must sue for at least $10,000 but no more then $25,000. Attorneys are allowed to appear, and generally speaking the rules of evidence are more relaxed, although not as relaxed as Small Claims. In addition, the rules of discovery are narrowed, which has the impact of limiting the amount of work allowed to be performed by an attorney.
Finally, is a California Superior Court – Unlimited Jurisdiction. These courts are the most common. Attorneys are allowed to represent a party, and the lawsuit must seek at least $25,000 in damages.
Our San Francisco Bay Area Attorneys have experience in all three California Courts. To discuss your case, contact us today.