An unlawful detainer is a civil case brought by a landlord to obtain possession of rented property and receive payment of back rent. In order to legally evict a tenant (remove and lock the tenant out of the property), the landlord must file an unlawful detainer action. An award for possession of property authorizes the landlord to evict the tenant from the property. If the landlord is also awarded judgment for payment of back rent, he or she may collect the judgment by garnishing the tenant’s wages, attaching the tenant’s property, or any other legal means.
Unlawful detainers (evictions or landlord/tenant cases) are processed on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse at 41 West Yaney Avenue, Sonora, CA, 95370.
Phone: (209) 533-5555
Filing an Eviction
This information is intended as a procedural guide only. You may wish to seek an attorney's advice. Any errors in following the strict procedural requirements may result in having to start the process all over again, and may delay you in obtaining the eviction. If the tenant files an answer, you may have to represent yourself in a court or jury trial.
If you are evicting a lodger from the home you own and reside in, this may not be the procedure for you. You should seek legal advice as there may be a quicker and less costly method of eviction.
There are several steps involved in the eviction process. Each must be completed, and the appropriate time must elapse before going to the next step.
Notice to Tenant
Several types of notices are available at office supply stores or use I-CAN!™ Legal to prepare your notice. You must choose the appropriate notice for your situation. The notice must be properly served to the tenant prior to initiating a case with the court. A proof of service must be completed after the notice is served. You may be required to show this proof to the judge if you go to trial.
Where to file (venue)
You must file your case in the proper judicial district and geographical area. If the amount you are suing for is over $25,000. and the property is located within Tuolumne County, your case is an unlimited civil case and must be filed on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse at 41 West Yaney Avenue, Sonora, CA, 95370.
Summons and Complaint
1. Complete the following:
All of these forms are available for free on this website or use I-CAN!™ Legal to prepare your forms.
2. Make a copy for yourself and each party named in your complaint. Take the completed forms and copies to the clerk for filing.
3. Pay the current filing fee.
4. YOU are now the plaintiff and the party you sued becomes the defendant.
After the clerk processes your complaint and issues your summons, you will receive a case number.
Service of Summons and Complaint
A copy of the summons and unlawful detainer complaint must be served on each defendant. The person doing the service must complete and file a separate Proof of Service (Form #POS-010) for each defendant served. Service may be done by the sheriff, a registered process server, or someone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the action. Check section 415 and subsequent sections of the California Code of Civil Procedure for more information regarding service of the summons.
You must file your case in the proper judicial district and geographical area. If the amount you are suing for is over $25,000 and the property is located within Tuolumne County, your case is an unlimited civil case and must be filed on the second floor of the historic courthouse at 41 West Yaney Avenue, Sonora, CA, 95370
Where to file (venue)
For Immediate Possession of Property Only:
If the defendant fails to properly respond within the time specified on the summons, plus any additional time required depending on the method of service used, then the clerk will enter a default upon your filing of a properly executed request for Entry of Default (Form #CIV-100).
To obtain a default judgment for possession only, you must complete and file with the clerk the following forms:
For Money After Possession is Obtained
This type of default judgment would be used to have a judgment entered for the total rent owed to you after you have obtained possession of the property.
This type of judgment may be done by declaration or by appearing before a judge at a hearing. To proceed by declaration, you may use the Declaration for Default Judgment by Court (Form #UD-116) or to set a hearing, use the Request to Set Default or Uncontested Matter for Hearing (Local Form # TUO-CV125). There is no filing fee for requesting this hearing. Whether proceeding by declaration or appearing before a judge, a judgment must be prepared. You may use the following form: Judgment - Unlawful Detainer (Form #UD-110).
For Possession of Property and Money:
You may choose to have a judgment for possession and rent owed simultaneously.
This type of judgment may be done by declaration or by appearing before a judge at a hearing. You may use the Declaration for Default Judgment by Court (Form #UD-116) or to set a hearing, check with the appropriate civil clerk for scheduling times. There is no fee. Whether proceeding by declaration or appearing before a judge, a judgment must be prepared. You may use the following form: Judgement - Unlawful Detainer (Form #UD-110).
The forms required for a court judgment for possession and rent, simultaneously, are all of the above, plus: Proof of Service (Form #POS-010) for each defendant, and Request for Entry of Default (Form #CIV-100), Application for Writ of Execution (Form #L-1051) and the Writ of Execution (Form #EJ-130), together with the current fee.
Trial and Judgment
Once the defendant has filed a written answer, either party may request a trial date by filing a Request/Counter-Request To Set Case For Trial-Unlawful Detainer (Form #UD-150). A trial date is set by the clerk on the earliest date available within the statutory time; usually, within 20 days of filing the request. When requesting a trial date, either party may request a jury trial. Jury fees of $150.00 must then be posted at least five (5) days prior to the trial date.
At the trial, one of several things could happen. If both parties are present, the case will be tried so be ready! If only the plaintiff is present and wishes to proceed, the case may be tried as an uncontested trial, and it may proceed to judgment based on the proof you have offered. If, on the other hand, the defendant is the only party to appear, he or she may ask to have the case dismissed.
If the court orders judgment in your favor and orders you to prepare the judgment, you may use the form, Judgment - Unlawful Detainer (Form #UD-110). Submit the judgment along with an application for writ of execution, and the Writ of Execution (Form #EJ-130), plus the current fee.
Sheriff's Instructions - Service of Writ of Execution
The writ of execution is a court order that directs the sheriff to evict the tenant after you have obtained judgment. You may give the clerk your form instructions for the sheriff, Sheriff Instruction Sheet, along with the sheriff's required fee. This fee must be on a separate check made payable to the Tuolumne County Sheriff. Please contact the civil clerk of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office for the current fees at (209) 533-5833.
Responding to an Eviction
This information is intended as a procedural guide only. You may wish to seek an attorney's advice. If you have been served with papers from your landlord called summons-unlawful detainer and complaint-unlawful detainer, a lawsuit has been filed against you in court. (The landlord is now the plaintiff and you are the defendant.) You will need to respond to the court and have your case heard so a decision can be made. If you do not respond, you will be evicted.
An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a “summary” court procedure. This means that the court action moves forward very quickly, and that the time given the tenant to respond to the lawsuit is very short. In most cases, the tenant has only five days, including weekends, to file a written response to the lawsuit after being served with a copy of the unlawful detainer complaint. If the fifth day to answer falls on a weekend or holiday, you can file your answer on the following Monday or non-holiday.
The court does not furnish interpreters for civil matters. Parties must provide their own interpreter if one is needed in court. For more information, please visit the Interpreter page of our website.
Questions and Related Information
If you have any legal questions, you must contact an attorney or do your own research. A law library is available within the Self Help Center on the first floor at the Historic Courthouse. If you have any questions regarding the status of your case, please call the civil clerk’s office at (209) 533-5555. All documents must be completed accurately. Any documents needing correction will be returned. This may delay your judgment and/or writ. You are responsible for providing copies. You must provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of your documents.
For more information, click on one of the links below.
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Note: Nothing in this website is intended as either legal advice or as a ruling of the court. This information is provided as a general guide only. You are encouraged to get the assistance of a lawyer if legal advice is needed.