Small Claims Court is a special court to provide citizens with a quick and inexpensive way to collect claims up to $10,000. You must be 18 years old to file a claim. Minors must have the court appoint a guardian to sue for them.
Go to the Court Executive Office in the Historic Courthouse, at 825 Brown Street, Napa, and ask for the small claims clerk. You need the defendant's exact legal name and address. You must fill out a court form saying who you are suing and for how much and that you have tried to resolve the dispute. You must pay a small filing fee or get the fee waived. The defendant must be served with a copy of the claim. This can be done for a fee by the Sheriff's Department, or the Small Claims Court Clerk may serve the claim by Certified Mail. It can also be done by a process server, a friend, or a relative; however, you can't do it yourself. Bring to court all witnesses, books, papers and receipts you may need to prove your case. Lawyers are not allowed in Small Claims Court, but before going to court, you may consult an attorney or ask the court to provide assistance. The trial is informal. The judge is experienced in settling disputes and will come to a decision based on the facts, law, and common sense. If you obtain a judgment against a defendant, the court clerk will tell you ways to collect your money if the defendant fails to pay the judgment.
Need Help? Napa County operates a Small Claims Court Advisor Program to assist you. Call (707) 253-4524. The Small Claims Advisor is available by telephone Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Additional help may be found on the Napa County Superior Court's website.
Legal Aid of Napa Valley (formerly Napa County Legal Assistance Agency) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide free, competent legal assistance to seniors, immigrants and low-income residents of Napa County. Legal Aid represents clients before courts and agencies, helps them obtain benefits, and protects their rights through advocacy, consultation, education and referrals.