Arizona Small Claims in Justice Court: An Overview

From maximum dollar limits to statutes of limitations, learn about small claims court in Arizona Justice Court.

By , Attorney

What's the small claims court limit in Arizona Justice Court?

You can ask for up to $3,500 in a small claims action in Arizona Justice Court—the court that handles small claims matters matters in Arizona.

Can a landlord bring an eviction lawsuit in an Arizona small claims court?

Evictions are heard in Arizona Justice Court. It's also an excellent forum for other types of cases typically brought in small claims courts, too, such as property damage cases and breach of contract disputes.

Which Arizona Justice Court should I file my small claims action in?

Arizona has many Justice Courts. You must choose the proper court location or venue; otherwise, the defendant—the person or company you sue—will be able to ask the court to transfer or dismiss your action. In Arizona, you can file in the precinct where:

  • any defendant resides
  • the transaction or injury occurred
  • the obligation was to be performed, or
  • any other venue (location) over which the court has jurisdiction if the defendant fails to object.

You might have other options, depending on your case. Most courts post venue rules on the court website. The defendant can file a motion to transfer the venue if the defendant disagrees with the court location.

When must I file a case in small claims court in Arizona?

You don't have an unlimited amount of time to file a lawsuit. You'll have to bring it within the statute of limitations period for your particular case. For example, you'll have two years for injury and property damage cases. Oral and written contract cases must be brought in three or six years, respectively. If you don't file within this period, you lose your right to sue.

The statute of limitations can stop and restart depending on various circumstances, and figuring out when it expires can be challenging. For instance, if a minor is injured, the personal injury statute won't begin running until the child reaches 18 years of age. Learn more about calculating the statute of limitations.

Can an attorney represent a small claims claimant in Arizona Justice Court?

Lawyers cannot appear on behalf of small claims plaintiffs or claimants unless all parties agree to legal representation in writing.

Does the defendant have to answer the small claims complaint?

Yes. In Arizona, the defendant must file an answer within 20 days to avoid an automatic loss and default judgment. Learn what happens if you get sued in small claims court.

Will I have a judge or jury trial in small claims court in Arizona?

A judge will hear your case at the Justice Court small claims hearing—jury trials aren't allowed. Find out what to expect at the small claims trial.

Can I appeal an Arizona Justice Court small claims case?

No. A plaintiff who would like to preserve appeal rights should file in the regular division of Justice Court. A defendant must transfer the matter to the regular docket to preserve the right to appeal.

Will the court collect my judgment for me?

No. You'll be responsible for all collection efforts. It's a good idea to determine whether you can collect before deciding whether to sue.

Where can I learn more about small claims court in Arizona?

Most courts include filing instructions on the court website or provide self-help services. For additional resources, try Arizona Court's Small Claims Self-Service Center. You can also view Arizona law online on the Arizona State Legislature website. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 22-501 to 22-524.)

For detailed help with case filing, court strategy, and collecting a money judgment, see Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court by Attorney Cara O'Neill (Nolo).

Look out for Legal Changes. This overview doesn't provide all of the information needed to file a small claims case. Also, keep in mind that statutes can change, and checking them is always a good idea. How the courts interpret and apply the law can also change. These are just some of the reasons to consult an attorney if you have any questions about litigating your case or if you aren't comfortable independently verifying the law.

Updated February 5, 2020