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What happens if I do not show up at a Small Claims Hearing?

Produced by Mariah Jennings-Rampsi, South Coastal Counties Legal Services, with funding from American College of Bankruptcy Foundation
Reviewed December 2019

If you do not go to a small claims hearing, the creditor usually wins automatically “by default”. The plaintiff will get a judgment for the amount of money they asked for in the complaint. You can get a copy of the judgment from the court. The judgment will remain for 20 years. Your credit report will show you owe this money for the next 7 years.

For the next 20 years:

  • The plaintiff can get an execution to take any car you get if it is worth more than $7,500.
  • If you are over 60, the car must be worth more than $15,000 before the plaintiff can get the execution.
  • If you get any other unprotected assets, the plaintiff can get an execution to take these.
  • If you get a job, the plaintiff can ask the court to let them garnish part of your wages.

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