Downtown Location (210) 335-2803 Fax (210) 335-2780
Small Claims Information Handout
Texas Statute, Govt Code Ch. 28, 28.001 - 28.055
Filing Accepted: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.
No Personal Checks or Credit/Debit Cards
THE CLERKS OF THIS COURT CANNOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. If you have any other questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney. The San Antonio Bar Association can refer one (210) 227-8822. The Mexican Bar Association (210) 737-2992. Another alternative is the Dispute Resolution Center (210) 335-2128, which is a free service of Bexar County. There main purpose is to try to solve disputes between parties by mutual agreement without going to court.
IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO COLLECT ON A JUDGMENT: There is no guarantee you will collect if you "win" your case. The Judge of a Small Claims Court can only award a judgment. He/She has no power to collect on a judgment, other than the issuance of writs.
LIMITED JURISDICTION: (Govt. Code Ch. 28.003)
Small Claims Jurisdiction is $10,000.00 or less. Small Claims court can only award judgment for money and cannot order a person to do some act or try to refrain from doing some act. Small claims are courts in which our citizens can settle small money disputes in a speedy, informal setting.
VENUE: (Govt. Code Ch. 28.011) (SMALL CLAIMS FORM)
SMALL CLAIMS NORMALLY MUST BE FILED IN THE COURT OF THE PRECINCT WHERE THE DEFENDANT LIVES: Under some circumstances you may have a choice of courts in which to bring a claim. For example, if the Defendant lives in one precinct but contracted to perform services in another precinct, either the precinct where the defendant lives or the precinct where the work was performed can be selected as the place to bring suit.
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU SUE: First determine who you are suing;
1) An Individual Person; or
2) An Individual Owner Doing Business (d.b.a.) As a Company; or
3) A Corporation (Incorporated Business)
1) If you are suing an individual be sure you spell the name fully and correctly and have the exact address. If you know of more than one good address where the defendant can be located (i.e.: home address, work address, etc.), be sure and list ALL KNOWN ADDRESSES ON THE FORM.
2) If you are suing a sole proprietorship (for example, John Doe owns ABC Auto Parts and does business under the assumed name of ABC Auto Parts) sue: John Doe individually and doing business as (d.b.a.) ABC Auto Parts. If you do not happen to know the owner of the sole proprietorship, you may contact the Assumed Names Dept. (210) 335-2223 located at the courthouse for more information.
3) If you are suing a Corporation: You must sue the Corporation and serve its registered agent. The Secretary of the State (512) 463-5701 can provide this information of the name & address of the registered agent. It is YOUR responsibility to find out if the business is incorporated or who the true owner is when filing.
RESETS: If necessary, a request for a reset (continuance) court date should be submitted in writing to the Judge as SOON AS POSSIBLE. Only the Judge can determine if the request is for good cause. If the request is approved, the court will notify all parties of the new date. Normally, no more than one request per party will be granted. If, as Plaintiff, you are in the business of loaning money either primarily (banks, credit union, savings and loans), or secondary (credit cards) you are not allowed to file in Small Claims Court; however, an attorney representing any of the above may file suit in behalf of the above in Justice Court. If you have witnesses to your suit who will not come to court voluntarily, you may ask this court to subpoena those individuals prior to trial. You must submit the request in writing and the cost for the subpoena is $65.00 + $10.00 per person.
1) Plaintiff pays at the time of filing; $96 .00 (31.00 filing fee, 65.00 to serve one person in Bexar County) and completes a Statement of Claim Form. The Court prepares a citation addressed to the defendant.
2) The Constable personally serves the Defendant with a citation and a copy of the Statement of Claim. The citation notifies the Defendant to appear for Monday at 10:00 a.m. following the expiration of (10) days from the date he/she was served.
3) On the court date, the Judge conducts a trial of the case and decides who won and for what amount. The court then prepares a judgment for the Judge to sign. (Note: prepaid filing fees (court costs) and all future court costs are usually automatically awarded into the court's standard judgment).
4) If the Defendant does NOT appear on the court date, the Judge may enter a Default Judgment against him/her.
5) Either party may appeal the judgment by filing a Notice of Appeal, Appeal Surety Bond with the court, and pay the required appeal filing cost of $16.00, within (10) ten days from the date of judgment. If no appeal is filed within (10) ten days, the judgment becomes final.
6) After (30) thirty full days, judgment is final, the party who won (the party who was awarded the judgment) can request a WRIT OF EXECUTION, for an additional cost of $205.00 to enforce the judgment. The Constable serves the Writ on the party who lost and makes oral demand for payment. If the constable receives no payment, and there is no non-exempt property to levy on, the Writ is returned to the court. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT JUDGMENT WILL BE COLLECTED BY A WRIT OF EXECUTION. Call the Constable's Office at (210) 335-2806, for further details about a Writ of Execution.
7) Another alternative to try to collect on a judgment is an ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT, at an additional cost of $5.00. The court prepares the Abstract which the winning party must file with the County Clerk Records Department at the Courthouse. When properly filed, an Abstract places a lien against any non-exempt, real property of the losing party for a period of (10) ten years and is renewable. ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT CAN BE REQUESTED AFTER (10) TEN DAYS AFTER JUDGMENT IS FINAL. When requesting an Abstract of Judgment, you should, whenever possible, provide the court with the losing party's date of birth, Texas Drivers License number, current address and amount, if any, that had already been collected on the Judgment
8) FAILURE TO APPEAR: If a defendant who has been served with citation fails to appear at the time and place specified in the citation, the Judge shall enter a default judgment for the plaintiff in the amount proved to be due. The Judge may set aside the default judgment if, not later then the 10th day after the default judgment is signed, the defendant files with the Court a written motion showing good cause for setting aside the judgment.
If the plaintiff does not appear, the Judge may enter an order dismissing the action without prejudice. The Judge may set the case for trial if, not later then the 10th day after the Judge dismisses the action, the plaintiff files with the court a written motion showing good cause to set aside the dismissal.
NOTICE: YOU MUST SIGN AND FILE A "RELEASE OF JUDGMENT" FORM if and/or whenever the Defendant pays off the full judgment owed to you. A release form can be obtained at this office.