San Diego Attorneys Helping Tenants Defend Eviction

Find a Lawyer who Specializes in Eviction Defense

If you are a tenant facing eviction, you must understand that unlawful detainer cases in California are a unique kind of lawsuit. Getting the right help in time is critical. Attorney Marc D. Whitham has represented thousands of tenants defend eviction in San Diego.

The following information is provided to help you understand the eviction process before you make any decision about whether to hire a lawyer, and to help you decide which lawyer will best suit your needs. Defending your rights to your home is a serious matter. Learn all you can, and get the legal representation you need.

Legal assistance for tenants is available.  If you need immediate help with eviction defense, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer directly by calling 619-573-9582. Many tenants facing eviction fear they won’t be able to afford an attorney to assist them. It may sound surprising, but it is almost always more costly in the long run to defend yourself.

If you can’t reach me right away, leave a voice message, and I will do my best to get back to you. Please understand that the demand for my services is always growing, and I cannot always return every call I receive. If you know that you need legal advice concerning your tenant rights, or if you have already been sued, then I encourage you to set an appointment directly.

Unlawful Detainer cases are not criminal cases

Many people are under the mistaken impression that an eviction is kind of like a misdemeanor criminal charge.  It is not.  In California, unlawful detainer actions are civil matters.  This is important for several reasons.

First of all, there is no right to appointed counselThe court will not assign you an attorney.  You are free to represent yourself, but it is not a good idea.

Secondly, the landlord does not have to prove very much in order to win.  The standard of evidence is more probable than not.  The court does not require that the plaintiff prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.  Click here for more information on what a landlord must prove in order to win.

Third, there is no double jeopardy.  This means that even if you win your case, the landlord can still come back to court again, and take another shot.  If you lose your case, you can appeal the decision, but an appeal alone will not stop the sheriff from locking you out.  There are very few exceptions to this rule.  Even if the court does grant a stay of execution to delay the lockout, it will almost always require the tenant to pay an expensive bond worth many months of rent payments.

Unlawful Detainer Cases are not Small Claims

The parties to unlawful detainer lawsuits have a right to be represented by attorneys.  Landlords and property management companies almost always  have lawyers.  There are many lawyers that work for plaintiffs pursuing eviction in San Diego.  San Diego is the sixth largest metropolitan area in the United States, and unlawful detainer cases account for a large percentage of the cases brought to the courts.  The reason landlord attorneys have lots of work to share among them is because landlords generally understand the critical difference having a lawyer will make.  Your day in court will not be  a “Judge Judy” kind of trial.  Once you are before the judge, the fight is on, and tenants without attorneys often learn they are outgunned.

Discovery is available.  Discovery requests allow parties to a lawsuit to find out what evidence the other side has before you get to trial.  Most civil cases involve multiple discovery requests from both the plaintiff and defendant.   These requests can be very detailed and time consuming, but they are an essential feature in almost every kind of litigated case.  The good news is that as a defendant in an unlawful detainer, you can also submit discovery requests to the plaintiff.  The bad news is that drafting the discovery requests can be technically demanding, and you can quickly be frustrated if you make mistakes.  Tenants who want to get discovery, but don’t have an attorney are often disappointed.   If your requests are not made within the appropriate time frame, then your right to discover the plaintiff’s evidence will vanish.

Rules of evidence apply.   The tenant’s side of the story is often times never really explained to the court because defendants without an attorney do not know how to overcome the objections of the landlord’s lawyer.   Trial can be a painful process to endure when you know you have a smoking gun document, or a witness who will help you carry the day, only to have the door shut in your face because you can’t get past an objection.

Unlawful Detainers are Summary Proceedings

Eviction cases typically take less than six weeks from the time the landlord files a complaint to the time that trial is concluded.  If the landlord has an efficient attorney, then the case can move even faster.  Tenants have important substantive rights, which means the law protects them from certain kinds of wrongful conduct.

What is poorly understood is that unlawful detainers are summary proceedings, and this means landlords have an enormous procedural advantage.  It is kind of like the difference between chess and speed chess.  You may be a great chess player, but when the clock is ticking and you need to make move in less than 5 seconds, it is a different game altogether.

Once you have been served with a summons and complaint, you should expect that you are going to be forced to make a number of critical decisions about your case within a matter of days.   It is not a good idea to postpone your decision about hiring an attorney.  If you miss the deadline for filing a response to the lawsuit, your rights to defend your case can be cut off.  Even if you get help filing the answer, or feel confident that you can manage it on your own, many tenants make critical mistakes that they cannot correct later.

Why Tenant Defenders wants your trust

  • Tenant Defenders is committed to offering the highest quality legal services available in this field. 
  • You will receive personal attention from a licensed attorney.
  • We do not use paralegals or office staff to handle your critical paperwork.
  • We cannot offer our services for free, but we will work with qualified candidates on payment plans, and sliding rates.
  • You will receive an honest assessment of your chances at trial, and a plan of action suited to your objectives.
  • We will not exact a pound of flesh one spoonful at a time.  Our pricing is straight forward and affordable.  No hidden additional costs or fees.
  • You control the outcome.  We will not force you to accept a settlement that you are unhappy with.

If you are still uncertain whether you need an attorney to defend against eviction, then I invite you to call us today to discuss your case.


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