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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Criminal FAQs

1. You will be checked in with the verifier's office. They will ask you if you would like to apply for a court appointed attorney, or if you will be retaining your own.

2. Upon entry into the courtroom, court staff will give you a copy of your charging instrument (a document which lists the offense(s) you are being charged with).

3. The Washington County Sheriff's Deputy in the courtroom will advise you as to whether or not you will need to complete the booking process after you have been arraigned. Booking process includes being fingerprinted and photographed.

4. You will watch a short video that advises every one of their rights. The judge will take the bench and call each case individually. Once the rights are given, the judge will call each case, when you hear your name called, you must step to the podium and answer any questions the judge will have.

5. The judge will advise you of your next court appearance as well as authorize a court appointed attorney to assist you if that is applicable.

Further Criminal Department information.

Failure to appear, or arriving late to your arraignment may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. Please refer to the Washington County Sheriff's Office website for instruction on how to turn yourself in on an outstanding warrant.

Court staff is not able to reset any arraignment. Should there be an emergency or other situation that may allow a reset of your arraignment, please fax (503-846-6087) a written request as soon as possible prior to the arraignment date, including your name, case number if one is available and the specifics of your request along with a contact number so that court staff can reach you to advise you of the judge's decision.

Please refer to the Washington County Jail website. This will provide specific information on how to post bail and also how to arrange visits with a friend or relative currently incarcerated in the Washington County Jail.

Please contact the Release Office within the Washington County Court Criminal Department. The Release Assistance Officer(s) will review your request to determine whether or not your Release Agreement may be modified to allow you to leave the State of Oregon.

Release Assistance Officers will determine the eligibility of individuals to be released. Should they meet the Release Assistance Officer's criteria, individuals may be released by signing a Release Agreement with conditions. If an individual does not meet the criteria, they may ask for a release hearing to determine if they should be released pending trial. The Release Assistance Officers will provide a report, containing results of investigations and interviews, to the judge, the prosecuting attorney, and to the defense attorney. This report will also contain a recommendation for the judge to take into consideration prior to making the release decision.

Small Claims FAQs

A small claims case is started by filling out a complaint form which is the starting instrument for a small claims case. This form can be purchased from the court for $5.00. The original claim must be filed with the clerk of the court at the Clerk's counter at the Justice Services Building, 150 N. 1st Avenue, Hillsboro Oregon 97124.


The sheriff charges a fee to serve one to two people at the same address.

By submitting the ORIGINAL hard copy of a letter addressed to the small claims clerk. The letter should include your case number, why you need a reset and your signature.

The Plaintiff is the party who files the complaint. The Defendant is the person who answers to the complaint.

It is the process of two opposing parties coming together to work out an agreement facilitated by a Mediator. This is an opportunity to create a win-win situation in your case rather than letting a judge decide in which one side will win and one side will lose.

14 days.

It means to have documents delivered to your opposing party in order to make them aware there has been a lawsuit filed.

You can request a default judgment. You do this by filling out a two page document and submitting it to the court clerk.

The county that is most appropriate in which to file is either where the defendant resides or where the situation you are suing for took place.

If you can't mediate, you have passed up the opportunity for both parties to give their input into the solution of the complaint. At this point it will be scheduled for trial sometime in the next few weeks after your scheduled mediation.

There are four ways:

  1. The County Sheriff
  2. Certified mail
    If certified mail is attempted, the Plaintiff must mail the claim addressed to the Defendant at the last known address. The envelope must be marked with the words DELIVER TO ADDRESSEE ONLY and RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED. The date of delivery on the return receipt card will be proof of completed mail service.
  3. By a Private Process Server (look in the yellow pages under Process Servers)
  4. Someone over 18 years of age who is not a party to the case.

Service cannot be done by someone who is a party to the case.

First check with the Corporation Commissioners' office in Salem: 503-986-2200 so that you can check on the correct name of the business.

If the defendant is a corporation

Put down the full Corporation name and address as the Defendant, and then show, over at the right side of the form, the name and address of the Registered Agent for the Corporation. The registered Agent is the person who will actually be served with the copy of your claim, together with an Answer form. An example is:

EASY PAY WAY, INC.Serve Registered Agent: John Brown
555 5th Ave   711 Bank Building
Hillsboro, Oregon 97123   Portand, Oregon 97225

If the defendant is an assumed business name (D.B.A.) - like a partnership

Name all the partners, D.B.A. (doing business as) the business name, as Defendants. Each of the partners (also called parties of interest or owner) will be served with a copy of the claim and an Answer form. An example is:

JOHN WAY & JIM WAY (be sure you show clearly where each partner is to be served)
555 5th Ave
Hillsboro, Oregon 97123

If the defendant is a corporation with an assumed business name

In this instance, the Corporation name becomes the owner or party of interest, and service of the claim will be made upon the Registered Agent of the Corporation. An example is:

EASY PAY WAY, INC.Serve Registered Agent: John Brown D.B.A. WAY’S EASY PAY
711 Bank Building   555 5th Ave
Portand, Oregon 97225   Hillsboro, Oregon 97123

If service is not completed within 60 days, the case may be dismissed after written notice to you.

You can submit a letter to the small claims judge and ask for an extension of time.

  1. If I'm the defendant and I want to pay the plaintiff in full and avoid a hearing, how do I show proof of payment?

    Make a copy of your check or money order and staple it to the back of your Notice of Defendant's Response (from our Forms page) and submit it to the court. Your payment must include filing fees and service expenses.
  2. Do I have to pay the plaintiff directly or can I pay the court?

    You can do either. If you prefer to pay the court, the money will be forwarded to the plaintiff after about two weeks.
  3. What if I don't actually deny the claim, but I want to go to mediation?

    Even though the answer form says I deny the claim of the plaintiff and I demand a hearing. You can check this box on your answer form even if you don't actually deny the claim.
  4. What happens if I want to demand a jury trial?

    To demand a jury trial, the money amount in the claim must be over $750.00. The fee for demanding a jury is $244.00. Once you have done this, the Plaintiff is mailed a notice to file a formal complaint. If the Plaintiff responds within 20 days, the case will be moved out of small claims court and into civil court. If the Plaintiff does not respond, the case will be dismissed.
  5. What is a counter claim?

    Counter claims (sometimes called cross claims) are what the Defendant files against the Plaintiff in the same way the Plaintiff originally filed a claim against the Defendant. You may file a counterclaim against the Plaintiff if you believe he owes you money or holds specific personal property as party of the same controversy. THE COUNTERCLAIM MUST HAVE EXISTED OUT OF THE SAME TRANSACTION OR OCCURRENCE AS PLAINTIFF’S CLAIM. If your counterclaim is for $10,000.00 or less, the claim and the counterclaim will be heard at the same hearing, in the Small Claims Department. If your counterclaim requires a transfer of the case to Circuit Court, the Plaintiff will no longer be limited to the original amount of his claim.

Carefully read through all the paperwork you have been served. Fill out the Notice of Defendant's Response on our Forms page by choosing one of the options and then submit it the court within 14 days.

This is what you need to file when you have subserved (when you've served someone over the age of 14, at the normal place of residence and who is not the person being sued). These can picked up at the clerk's office. This is usually only done when the sheriff serves. Private Process Servers do their own (check with them if they're going to take care of this for you).

You, your opposing party and a Mediator. Witnesses aren't necessary in mediation. If you bring friends or family with you, it will be up to the Mediator at the time of the mediation if they will be allowed to participate.

Mediation is a fairly informal procedure. Trial is more formal in that you stand before a judge in the courtroom and present your evidence in an organized way.

They are trained, neutral, third party volunteers who assist you in coming up with a mediated agreement, such as a payment plan.

Both parties are allowed only one reset.

This is regarding the date of the incident for which you are filing a lawsuit. For example, on or about October 5, 2004 an incident happened that you are suing for.

Not usually. Attorneys must receive special permission from the judge to appear in court.

No. However, court clerks can verify your signature with your ID and sign your document as a clerk of the court.

Call the clerk or submit a written request and one will be scheduled for you.

Collection is solely your responsibility. By using the court process, you can attain a judgment order which gives you the legal grounds to begin collection.


Any correspondence done by mail to the court should be addressed this way:

Washington County Courthouse
Attn: Small Claims Dept.
150 N. 1st Avenue
Hillsboro, Oregon 97124