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How to request a free translator in Los Angeles County Small Claims Court

Camila Lopez - Los Angeles - August 26, 2022

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Did you know that you can request a free interpreter/translator for your Los Angeles County Small Claims Court case? Whether you are the person who is suing, the person being sued, or need an interpreter for your witness, Los Angeles County Small Claims Courts offer interpreters free of charge.

In this article, learn about:

  • When to request an interpreter

  • Frequent Languages Available

  • Steps on how to request an interpreter in Los Angeles County Small Claims Court

  • What happens on the hearing day

  • Small Claims courts in Los Angeles County.

The Los Angeles Superior Court "promotes equal access to justice and guarantees court procedures are fair and understandable for court users from diverse cultural backgrounds."

When should you request an interpreter?

If you don't speak or understand English very well, especially legal terms, you may need a court interpreter to help you in court.

Frequent Languages Available

  • American Sign Language

  • Arabic

  • Armenian, Eastern

  • Armenian, Western

  • Chinese, Cantonese

  • Chinese, Mandarin

  • Farsi

  • Korean

  • Russian

  • Spanish

  • Tagalog

  • Thai

  • Vietnamese

Note, if you need an interpreter for a language not listed, you will still be able to request an interpreter for your language of choice.

How to request an interpreter in Los Angeles County Small Claims Court:

Note, if you need a Spanish language interpreter, you do not need to request one prior to the small claims hearing. Los Angeles Small Claims Courts have Spanish interpreters available every day.

Step 1: Go to the Interpreter Request Portal here.

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Step 2: Scroll to the bottom of the page, where it states "Select your case type" and select "Small Claims" and then click the word "here."

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Step 3: Fill the form.

  • You can find your case number on any of the documents you have received in the case. The case number consists of 11 letters and numbers. The first two numbers are the first two numbers of the filing year. For example, if you filed the case in 2020, the first two numbers would be "20."

  • Your hearing information should be listed on the "Plaintiff's Claim and Order for Small Claims Court" (Form SC-100), the first document filed in the case.

    If you are unsure of the hearing information, you can search your case files online. Read Our "How to Access Your Small Claims Court Case Information Online" article.

  • Role in the case: If you are the person suing, then you are the "plaintiff," if you are the person being sued, you are the "defendant."

The Hearing Day

  • Arrive at the courtroom at least 15 minutes before your hearing. Do not be late!

  • When you arrive at the courtroom, let the sheriff or the court clerk know that you requested an interpreter. There is usually a designated area for those who have requested interpreters to sit.

  • Most interpreters would like to know a few details about your case before the judge conducts a hearing.

  • Don't feel bad asking the interpreter to speak slower. You want to make sure you understand what is going on at all times.

What happens if there are no interpreters available on the date of my hearing or my interpreter does not show up?

  • The judge or court clerk will ask you if you want to reschedule your hearing date (they may say "do you want your hearing continued"). The word "continue" means "reschedule." While you may want to move forward with your hearing since you are already at the courthouse, you want to be careful. If you can understand some English or speak English for everyday activities, the English the judge may use during the hearing can get complicated. Most people are also nervous during the small claims hearing which can make things even more difficult.

  • If you are not 100% confident that you will understand everything during the hearing, it is best you ask the judge to reschedule the hearing for a future date.

Small Claims Courts in Los Angeles County

Chief Legal Architect & Co-Founder @ People Clerk. Camila is an attorney, consumer advocate, and certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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