Can You Appeal A Small Claims Court Decision In California

Can you appeal a small claims court decision in California?

Yes, you can appeal a small claims court decision in California.

Appealing a case involves requesting the Superior Court to modify the original decision made by the Small Claims Court.

It is often referred to as a “Trial de Novo” or a “New Trial” since a new judge from the Superior Court, rather than the Small Claims Court, will preside over your case.

Can You Appeal A Small Claims Court Decision In California

Before You can you appeal a small claims court decision in California

Here are some important considerations:

You have a 30-day window from the judgment date to file the appeal. This date is typically when you receive the written judgment from the court.

You can have legal representation, and so can the opposing party.

The appeal will be heard for the original judgment amount.

For instance, if you were sued for $1,000, and the judgment against you is $250, the judge will consider the appeal at the $1,000 amount.

If you lose the appeal, the other side may be awarded $1,000.

You are not required to pay the Small Claims Court judgment while your appeal is being processed.

If the court determines that the appeal was filed to harass the other party, they may award the other party up to $1,000 in attorney’s fees, up to $1,000 for lodging and transportation related to the appeal, and any actual lost earnings.

It’s important to note that an appeal is distinct from a motion to vacate a default judgment.

If you lost your case because you didn’t attend the hearing and received a default judgment, you must file a motion to vacate the judgment to cancel it.

In such cases, do not initiate an appeal for the default judgment.

To File an Appeal, follow these steps:

  1. Complete the “Notice of Appeal (Small Claims)” Form SC-140.
  2. Submit the completed form along with the required filing fee at the Small Claims clerk’s office where the initial judge heard your case.
  3. You and the other party will receive notification of the new hearing date by mail from the clerk’s office. The court will send you the date and time for your appeal hearing.
  4. The appeal hearing will take place in the civil division of the superior court.

Prepare and Attend the Appeal Hearing

To effectively prepare for and attend the appeal hearing, consider these guidelines:

Prior to the hearing, ready yourself as thoroughly as you did for your initial appearance.

Gather all your evidence and secure your witnesses.

Do not assume that the appeals judge will have access to any previously submitted evidence.

If you possess new evidence, make certain to bring it to the hearing.

During the hearing, present your case comprehensively once again.

The new judge will review all aspects as if they were adjudicating the case from scratch.

You have the option to retain an attorney for the appeal if you wish.

If you seek to have recoverable costs covered by the opposing party, don’t hesitate to request this during the appeal hearing.

Be prepared to provide evidence such as receipts and bills demonstrating that the other party owes you these costs.

In case of a successful appeal, the judge may grant you up to $150 in attorney fees and up to $150 for your documented loss of earnings, transportation expenses, and lodging costs related to the appeal.

What happens after your appeal

If You Win the Appeal You Filed:

  • The judgment becomes final, and you have no financial obligation to the other party.

If You Lose the Appeal You Filed:

  • There is no 30-day waiting period; you must immediately pay the amount determined in the appeal.
  • The judge will order you to pay the judgment amount, along with interest and costs.
  • Interest will accumulate at a rate of 10% per year if the judgment remains unpaid.
  • Examples of costs you may owe the other party include filing and service of process fees, proven lost earnings by the Plaintiff, transportation, lodging costs linked to the appeal, and attorney’s fees up to $150.

What are the limitations for small claims court in California?

  • Generally, claims are restricted to disputes up to $5,000.
  • Individuals (natural persons) have the option to claim up to $10,000.
  • Corporations, partnerships, unincorporated associations, governmental bodies, and other legal entities are limited to claims of no more than $5,000.

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