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Topic Tuesday


Small Claims

This week's civil spotlight is small claims. Small claims are filed through the Columbia County District Clerk. Their address is 517 N. Jackson in Magnolia. It costs $65 to file a small claims civil suit. The sheriff's office can serve the defendant, or the defendant can be served by certified mail. The sheriff's office costs $50 for in-person service, or certified mail is around $15.

Filing a small claims suit is no small feat. A citizen will pick up the paperwork packet from the District Clerk, fill it out and return the packet. The packet is then sent to the prosecutor, and possibly the judge, for approval. It is then either sent to the sheriff's office or post office for service. Once the defendant is served, s/he has 30 days to file an answer. If no answer is filed, a default judgement is issued for moneys or damage. The District Clerk can garnish wages, tax money, etc. in this default judgement. If the defendant does file an answer, the defendant and plaintiff have a court hearing with the judge present. The judge makes the decision whether the plaintiff has enough information/evidence to receive the amount requested in the small claims suit.

Small claims can be used for damage/reimbursement up to $5,000, with no attorneys involved.

Small claims suits can be done for work that is completed, but isn't done well, work that has been done, but not paid for, or work that wasn't completed and paid in full. There are instances where work not completed, but paid in full can be theft by deception.

The attorney general has an informative website for small claims. See it here: Guide to Small Claims Court - Arkansas Attorney General (

Thank you for reading this week's Topic Tuesday! This concludes our civil suits series.

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