Civil cases involve a dispute between two or more parties over an injury, their rights, or their obligations. Civil cases do not involve prosecution for violating a criminal law.
Civil cases involve disputes between private parties rather than the violation of criminal law. A civil matter may involve a lawsuit in which one party sues another to recover money or property, to enforce a contract or other obligation, to collect damages for injury or to protect a civil right.
Some examples of civil cases include claims for personal injuries arising from automobile accidents, alleged wrongful termination from employment, evictions from a house or commercial building or disputes regarding the use of an easement.
Petitions to change one’s name, change a child’s name, and to seek civil harassment restraining orders are also processed by the Civil Division.
General civil cases are categorized as either “Limited” or “Unlimited” depending on the type of relief sought or the amount in controversy:
Limited Civil Cases
A Limited Civil case involves a claim for money damages of less than $25,000.00.
Most unlawful detainer and credit card collection cases and other matters, designated as such by statute, are limited civil cases.
Unlimited Civil Cases
An Unlimited Civil case involves a claim for money damage for $25,000.00 or more. In addition, most disputes regarding real property such as claims to title or disagreements about the location of boundary lines or easements are considered Unlimited cases.
Landlord / Tenant Disputes - Unlawful Detainers
An Unlawful Detainer is a special court action, filed by a landlord, to evict a tenant.
After being served with the complaint, a tenant has five (5) days to file a response with the Court. If the tenant does not file a response within the allotted timeframe, the landlord may obtain a default judgment against the tenant. If the tenant files a response to the complaint, the landlord may request a trial date.
If the landlord wins, the Court will enter a "judgment for possession" in favor of the landlord. Only the sheriff can enforce the judgment. The Sheriff may physically remove a tenant from the property named in the judgment.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant without a Court order. Moreover, it is illegal for the landlord to use "self-help" measures to accomplish an eviction. For example, a landlord cannot change the locks on the property or shut off utilities services to the property in an attempt to force the tenant to leave.