Small claims courts, also sometimes called “Peoples Court”, is a court of limited jurisdiction. Limited jurisdiction means only certain matters may be filed and heard by the small claims court. There is also a maximum claim amount limitation.
Small claims court offer a quick, informal and inexpensive way of resolving many types of disputes you may have with particular individuals or companies.
Since they are courts of limited jurisdiction, they can only hear cases allowed by state law. Often, a civil action in small claims court cannot involve more than a certain amount of money, i.e. 5,000.00. The amout varies state by state so check your state law.
Other actions not involving a clearly defined amount in controversy can also be brought in small claims court such as evictions. Again, you must check the laws of your state to determine what actions can be maintained there.
In small claims court, the trial is an informal hearing before a judge. There is no jury and the plaintiff presents his or her evidence and witnesses. The defendant is also responsible for presenting his or her witnesses. After hearing both sides of the dispute, the judge will render a judgment based on the law and the facts presented.