Riverside County Small Claims Court

March 29, 2021
Riverside County Small Claims Court
People Clerk helps you with your small claims court lawsuit.

Have a Small Claims Court Lawsuit in Riverside County or thinking of filing one? We have summarized the relevant information you need to know for when you go to one of the Riverside County Small Claims Courts.  

Can I file my Small Claims Case in Riverside County?

You can always sue an individual a Riverside Small Claims Court if they live in Riverside County. You can always sue a company in a Riverside Small Claims Court if their business is located in Riverside County. What can be tricky is figuring out in which Riverside Small Claims Court to file the lawsuit.

You may be able to sue in a Riverside Small Claims in other situations. For example:

  • If you are suing about a car accident that occurred in Riverside.
  • If you are suing about a security deposit and the leased premises are located in Riverside (you would also be able to sue your landlord in the small claims court in the county where they live).
  • If you are suing about damage to your house and your house is in Riverside.

If the defendant lives in the following cities/towns/communities then you can sue in Riverside small claims: Banning, Beaumont, Blyth, Calimesa, Canyon Lake, Cathedral City, Coachella, Corona, Desert Hot Springs, Eastvale, Hemet, Indian Wells, Indio, Jurupa Valley, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Menifee, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Norco, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Perris, Rancho Mirage, Riverside, San Jacinto, Temecula, and Wildomar.


What types of small claims lawsuits can be filed?

So long as there isn't another court better suited to hear the case, then the lawsuit can be filed in small claims. The most common types of small claims cases in Riverside Small Claims Court are:

  • Landlord/Tenant disputes over the security deposit.
  • Landlord/Tenant disputes over early termination of the lease.
  • Unpaid rent.
  • Roommate disputes.
  • Disputes over loans.
  • Contracts (written and oral).
  • Auto accidents.
  • Disputes over auto repairs.
  • Disputes over remodeling or home repairs (Contractor disputes).
  • Damage caused to property.
  • Unpaid bills.

How long do I have to file a small claims lawsuit in Riverside County?

  • Do not wait to file your small claims court lawsuit! After an incident occurs, you only have a set period of time to file your lawsuit. Think of this as a deadline (called the statute of limitations). Once the deadline is reached, you cannot file your small claims lawsuit.  
  • Read Common statutes of limitations for Riverside Small Claims Court.

How much can I sue for in Riverside County Small Claims?

This is also known as the "small claims court limits." In Riverside Small Claims:

  • An individual or sole proprietor can sue for $10,000 or less.
  • A corporation or LLC can sue for $5,000 or less.

What are the Riverside Small Claims Court Filing Fees?

The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit in Riverside depends on how much you are suing for:

  • If you are suing for $1,500 or less, then your filing fee is $30.
  • If you are suing for more than $1,500 but less than or equal to $5,000, then your filing fee is $50.
  • If you are suing for more than $5,000 but less than or equal to $10,000, then your filing fee is $75.

What are other costs for Small Claims Court?

In most small claims cases, you can expect to pay:

If you win your case, you can request that the losing party pay for "reasonable costs."

Riverside Small Claims Court Hearings

When will the Small Claims Hearing be?

  • Once a case is filed in Riverside Small Claims Court, the hearing will be scheduled within 30- 70 days.
  • You must serve the small claims lawsuit on the defendant at least 15 days before the hearing if the defendant lives or resides within Riverside County. If the defendant resides outside of Riverside County, you must serve them at least 20 days before the hearing.
  • Make sure to file "Proof of Service" at least 5 days before the hearing.  

How to prepare for a Small Claims Court Hearing?

You have filed your small claims lawsuit and served the defendant. The next step is to start preparing for your Small Claims Court hearing in Riverside.

  • Research the law. If you are unsure about your case conduct your own research about the law or consult an attorney.
  • Prepare your evidence. Invoices, contracts, receipts, etc. You want to have your evidence organized with titles, dates, and why that piece of evidence is important. All your evidence should be geared towards showing the judge why you are correct.
  • Prepare what to say. During the hearing, the judge will ask the person suing to explain their case. The judge will then ask the person being sued for their side of the story.
  • Get your receipts for costs ready. For example, your filing fees and any process server costs. Make sure to let the judge know that you would like to be reimbursed for costs.  
  • Print enough copies of all your evidence. You will need at least three copies (one for you, one for the judge, one for the other side).

What happens on the hearing date?

Give yourself plenty of time.

You do not want to be late for your hearing. Give yourself plenty of time for parking and navigating the courthouse.

Once You Walk into the Courthouse...

  • Once you walk in, the first thing you will see is airport-like security. You will need to put your belongings through the metal detector. You can bring in laptops and cellphones, unlike some courthouses.
  • If you are at the Hayward Hall of Justice, go to the courtroom located in Department 519.
  • If you are at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, go to the courtroom located in Department 106.

Once you arrive at the courtroom, locate your case on the paper schedule outside the courtroom door.

  • Outside of each courtroom, there will be a printed list of the cases that have hearings on that day.
  • You want to locate your case on the schedule. If you don't see your case listed, but you have received notice that your case will be heard that day, you may want to try and speak to the sheriff or clerk in the courtroom. If you are unable to speak to them, go to the small claims court clerk to verify.
  • Make sure to use that waiting time to organize your evidence or go to the restroom.
  • Once the courtroom is opened, the court clerk, sheriff, and judge will go through what to expect. You will be sitting in a room with other people who have filed small claims cases. You will get to watch the cases before yours.  Make sure you are in the courtroom when your case is called!

Small Claims Mediation

Some small claims courts offer free mediation.

  • What is mediation? Mediation is a meeting between both the plaintiff (the person suing) and the defendant (the person being sued) conducted by a neutral third-party (a mediator). The parties will meet with a mediator, discuss their case, and try to reach a mutually beneficial solution. Both parties must agree to mediation and it cannot be forced on them.
  • When will mediation occur? The court clerk, judge, or sheriff will announce if there are mediators available that day. Usually, the judge will tell the audience that if you opt for mediation, you can try to mediate the case while other hearings are being conducted. If you finish the mediation early, then you get to "skip the line" and your case is processed faster.

The Hearing

If both parties show up:

  • Right before the hearing, the judge will ask the parties to show each other the evidence that they have brought with them.  
  • The Judge will ask the person who is suing why they are suing.
  • Then the person who is being sued will get to present their side of the story.
  • The hearing will last around 15 minutes.
  • The judge will ask the parties to show the judge the evidence they brought with them. Sometimes the judge will keep the evidence other times you will get the evidence right back.
  • Very rarely will a judge tell the parties their decision immediately after the hearing. Instead, the judge will tell the parties that the decision will be mailed to them (usually takes a few weeks to two months or so).

If only the plaintiff shows up:

  • The plaintiff (the person who is suing) has to still prove their case. The plaintiff will have to tell the judge why they are suing and provide enough evidence.

If only the defendant shows up:

Are attorneys allowed in small claims court?

  • Attorneys are not allowed to represent parties at the initial hearing. If the defendant appeals the case, then attorneys are allowed to represent the parties at the appeal hearing.
  • You will not be able to hire a lawyer to represent you at the initial small claims court hearing.

Interpreters

When available the court provides a free interpreter. However, the court does not guarantee that an interpreter will be available. You are allowed to bring an adult who is not a witness or an attorney to interpret for you.

Where are the small claims courts in Riverside County?

While there are many courthouses in Riverside County, there are only a few conduct small claims hearings.  


Here are the addresses and the phone numbers to contact the court clerk:


Banning Justice Center

311 E. Ramsey Street

Banning, CA 92220

Court Clerk Phone Number: (951) 777-3147

Clerk's Office Hours during COVID-19: Monday- Friday, 7:30 am to 2:00 pm

Website

Areas Served: Banning, Beaumont, Cherry Valley Springs, Cabazon, Whitewater, Calimesa, Idyllwild, Mountain Center, Unincorporated areas of Riverside County


Blythe Courthouse

265 N. Broadway

Blythe, CA 92225

Court Clerk Phone Number: (760) 393-2617

Clerk's Office Hours during COVID-19: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 7:30 am to 2:00 pm, for emergency matters only.

Website

Areas Served: Blythe, Ripley, Vidal


Corona Courthouse

505 S. Buena Vista Ave.

Room 201

Corona, CA 92882

Court Clerk Phone Number: (951) 777-3147

Clerk's Office Hours during COVID-19: Temporarily Closed

Website

Areas Served: Corona, Mira Loma, Norco, Riverside


Moreno Valley

13800 Heacock Street

Bldg. #D201

Moreno Valley, CA 92553

Court Clerk Phone Number: (951) 777-3147

Clerk's Office Hours during COVID-19: Temporarily Closed

Website

Areas Served: Moreno Valley, Nuevo, Perris, Riverside


Southwest Justice Center (Murrieta)

30755-D Auld Road

Murrieta, CA 92563

Court Clerk Phone Number: (951) 777-3147

Clerk's Office Hours during COVID-19: Monday- Friday, 7:30 am- 2:00 pm, emergency matters only.

Website

Areas Served: Aguanga, Anza, Hemet, Homeland, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, San Jacinto, Temecula, Wildomar, Winchester


Palm Springs

3255 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way

Palm Springs, CA 92262

Court Clerk Phone Number: (760) 393-2617

Clerk's Office Hours during COVID-19: Monday- Friday, 7:30 am to 2:00 pm, emergency matters only.  

Website

Areas Served: Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Center, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Mecca, North Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Pinyon Pines, Rancho Mirage, Thermal, Thousand Palms.

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