Mississippi Small Claims Court Process

Mississippi Small Claims Court Process

Last Updated: March 3, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Small Claim Maximum $3,500
Deadline to File 3 Years
Filing Fees Vary by court
Appeal Deadline 10 Days

Small Claims Court Basics in Mississippi

Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The plaintiff and defendant present their case to the judge, who makes a decision unless either party requests a jury trial.

Common suits filed by landlords include:

  • Recovery of unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Early termination of a lease

Common suits filed by tenants include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit correctly
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Overcharging for damages

How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Mississippi?

A typical small claims case in Mississippi takes one to two months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if there are problems serving the defendant, the trial is continued, or other delays occur.

How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Mississippi?

In Mississippi, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $3,500.

To attempt to recover an amount of more than $3,500, the suit must be filed in Circuit or County Court.

How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claim in Mississippi?

In Mississippi, the time limit for filing a small claims case regarding the breach of a written or oral lease agreement is 3 years.

Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Mississippi?

Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney. However, either party can be represented by an attorney if they so choose.

Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Mississippi?

In Mississippi, Small Claims Court is called Justice Court. A small claims case should be filed in the Justice Court where the rental property is located or where the defendant lives.

How to File a Small Claims Case in Mississippi

Step 1: Contact the court clerk to obtain a Declaration and any other forms required by your local court for a small claims case, as well as determine their filing procedures. The different courts throughout Mississippi use their own form, but they are similar to the Hinds County Declaration form.

Attach any documentation you have to support your claim to the Declaration form, like the lease agreement or apartment photos.

Step 2: File the Declaration according to your local court’s filing procedures. The court clerk will provide you with a hearing date.

Step 3: Pay the filing fee.

How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Mississippi?

The fee for filing a case in Small Claims Court in Mississippi varies by court and depends on the number of defendants.

What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?

You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fees by filing a Pauper’s Right to Waive Filing Fees. Contact the court clerk to obtain the form.

Small Claims Court Process in Mississippi

After filing a small claims case in Mississippi, the court clerk will issue a Summons, the case is scheduled for a trial, and the appropriate documents are served on the defendant.

Step 1: Serve the defendant. After you file the Declaration, you will need to serve the defendant.

The following documents must be served on the defendant:

  • Declaration
  • Summons

The procedure for service on the defendant varies by court, but typically includes service by sheriff, constable, certified mail, or private process server. Check with the court clerk to determine what methods of service are available in your local Justice Court.

Step 2: Gather witnesses. If you think it would help your case, ensure that any witnesses are available to attend the trial. For example, you may ask the apartment manager to serve as a witness to how clean you left the apartment after moving out.

You may need to subpoena a witness if you are unable to get them to attend voluntarily by filing and serving a Subpoena.

Step 3: Attend the trial. On the trial date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The judge (or jury, if requested) will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before deciding to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.

If the defendant does not attend the trial, the judge will issue you a default judgment.

Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Mississippi

If you win the judgment in Mississippi, the other party may appeal the case, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period, or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt.

If the defendant disagrees with the outcome of the trial, they have 10 days after the issuance of the judgment to appeal to Circuit Court by filing a Notice of Appeal.

When the judge issues the judgment, they will determine a time period for repayment. In the best case, the judgment debtor pays their debt within this period.

If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, there are multiple court actions available to recover the debt. The most common methods of enforcing a judgment are garnishment of wages, bank garnishment, or placing a lien on real estate. To initiate these processes, you would need to file a case to seek court-enforced payment of the judgment.

When a judge issues a judgment, they may determine an annual interest rate. You have 7 years to collect or renew a judgment before it expires.