Failure to appear at small claims court?

UPDATED: May 8, 2012

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Failure to appear at small claims court?

I’m due in small claims court the day after tomorrow over a $2000 returned check but I do not have transportation. I attempted to set up a payment plan with the institution the I owe (a credit union), as was recommended by the sheriff that brought me my summons. However, they say that I have to wait until after the court date. What can I expect if I do not attend this hearing?

Asked on May 8, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Maine


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you do not attend the trial, you will lose by default, or automatically; it's like a sports team forfeiting by not showing up. You can and should first ask (and document that you asked--e.g. fax or email) the opposing party to consent (or agree) to an adjournment (or delay); if they do, then call the court and let the court know (and provide whatever documentation the court wants). If they won't agree, try calling the court and asking if you can get  an adjournment without the other party's consent--if you are representing yourself and have a good reason, they may grant it.

If you can't get an adjourment, show up--even if you have to take a cab, rent a car, etc. Again, if you do not, you will lose automatically and the other side will have a judgment against you for the full amount. If you don't pay and they don't want to work something out, they could then try to garnish your wages, to levy on (or take money out of) a bank account, to execute on (or  have seized and sold) personal property, like vehicles or a big-screen TV, or to put a lien on real estate.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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