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How to prepare your small claims court case and win!

Small claims court preparation requires a thorough understanding of the process. First, you must understand that the judge is busy deciding many cases on the same day as yours so, if you plan to win, preparation is the key! You MUST be able to present your case in a brief, concise and very clear manner!

How to prepare for the small claims court hearing:

Collect and make certified copies of all possible documents and evidence; such as letters, lease agreements and receipts of payments, canceled checks, photographs, work orders, repair statements, promissory notes, written contracts or other documents that are pertinent to your case.

Write down all the important facts of your case in chronological order. This will help you prepare and ensures that, during the hearing, you do not forget anything. Remember, the judge is extremely busy, so organize your thoughts and be prepared to present your case quickly and clearly to the judge.

Arrange for any witnesses to attend the trial and be sure they are notified in writing of the of the time, date and location of the hearing. It's a good idea to include a copy of the Notice of Small Claims Form. Remember, witnesses must have personal knowledge of the facts that he or she is asked to testify about and they cannot be forced to testify; they must come to court voluntarily.

Consider attending a small claims court trial a few days before your small claims court hearing date in order to get a feel for the court's process. Also, if you are under 18 years of age, a parent, guardian or friend over 18 must represent you at the hearing.

Presentation of Evidence

After arriving at the courtroom, inform the court clerk who you are and that you are ready for trial. Once the case is called, you'll be sworn in along with the defendant and all witnesses.

The judge will ask you to explain your side of the case so, be brief and to the point. Provide important facts, avoid unwarranted emotion and unsupported opinions. Show any papers to the judge that support your case and, if you have brought any witnesses, ask the judge to allow them to testify for you.

Note: It's very important to remain calm throughout the hearing! DO NOT interrupt other people when they are speaking, especially the judge. Do not become angry or show a temper!

If you agree with the full amount of the claim or a portion of it, then settling out of court may be in your best interest. Settling out of Small Claims Court