Civil Litigation
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Please realize the information contained on this web site should not be construed as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between us. It is simply here as a means for me to provide you some basic information for you to use when deciding on whether or not you need to hire an attorney. Because each case is different, it would be impossible for us to provide legal advice on a web site.
Civil Litigation - Civil Suits - Lawsuits - Contract Disputes - Small Claims Court
What is general civil law (civil litigation)?
Basically it involves cases that are not criminal law. The typical general civil law case involves a dispute between people or organizations over money, such as if someone damages your car and will not pay. If you sue them, it is a civil suit. If the police arrest the person for damaging your car, that would be a criminal law case.
If you believe you have been wronged and the party who wronged you is not willing to make it right, you may have a right to take them to court for monetary damages. Call us for a consultation at 254-752-GARY (4279).
If you have been sued you should contact an attorney immediately to avoid a default judgment being entered against you. Call us for a consultation at 254-752-GARY (4279).
What is a default judgment?
If you do not answer a lawsuit within a given time ("the Monday next after the expiration of 10 or 20* days"), the Judge may sign an Order which gives the person suing you exactly what they want.
   * 10 days in some courts, 20 days in others - check your citation
What if I am being sued somewhere I do not live?
This area is much more complicated than a web site discussion can give. But generally speaking, you must have make purposeful, meaningful contacts with a forum state to be sued there ("minimum, purposeful contacts…[which] will not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice"). You may make those contacts by doing business there, contracting to be sued there, being present there. Not all suits filed in a place other than where you live are incorrectly filed, but of course sometimes (often times?) aggressive lawyers may purposely file in a wrong state hoping you will make a legal mistake to subject you to that court's jurisdiction. The theory being if it is inconvenient for you to defend the suit in another state, you will not defend it and they will win.
Can I go to jail for not paying a debt/civil suit/judgment?
The answer may shock you... YES. Let me explain. You cannot go to jail for not paying a debt/civil suit/judgment, however lawyers have had people put in jail for "contempt of court." The scheme works like this: they sue you (usually in another state or city where you do not live and cannot go to defend yourself) and they take a default judgment. Then they send you something in the mail called "interrogatories in aid of judgment" or something similar. You probably throw away the paper thinking it is just harassment. The lawyer then goes to court against you for contempt for failure to answer his interrogatories. The judge issues a warrant for your arrest and you are taken to jail. The lesson here is obvious. Pay attention to everything you get and read it thoroughly.
What is Small Claims Court and how does it differ from Justice Court?
If you have ever watched the show "The Peoples Court" you have seen Small Claims Court in action. Small Claims Court and Justice Court are the same court, the same judge, the same jurisdiction, with one big difference: rules of procedure and evidence. If you file a case without an attorney, you are probably better off in Small Claims Court rather than Justice Court. You have limited rules of evidence and procedure in Small Claims Court. You can have a jury trial or a trial by the judge (justice of the peace). Jurisdiction is limited to suits from $250.00 to $10,000.00 in damages for suits filed after September 1, 2007 (prior to that: $20.00 - $5,000.00). You can use an attorney in Small Claims Court or you can handle your own case.
"Small Claims Court" was abolished by the Texas Legislature effective May 1, 2013, and now all former small claims are handled as Justice Court cases.
Waco Texas Attorney and Counselor at Law