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How to Ask for a Language Interpreter for your Case

What is a language interpreter?

A language interpreter (also known as a court interpreter) is someone that a judge orders to translate language spoken in court proceedings into your language. A language interpreter helps translate for people that are hearing impaired and for people that do not communicate in English. Understanding what is spoken in your case can help you fully participate in court.

Note: A language interpreter is not a lawyer and does not give legal advice. If you need help finding a lawyer:

Will the judge give me a language interpreter?

The law says a language interpreter is required in a civil or criminal case if:

  • you file (turn in) a motion asking for a language interpreter, and
  • the judge determines that you need an interpreter because you are not able to communicate in English

How do I file (turn in) a motion for a language interpreter?

Follow these steps to file (turn in) a motion for a language interpreter. 

Step 1: Schedule a hearing on your request for a language interpreter.

Call the clerk’s office. Tell the clerk you want to schedule a hearing on a motion to appoint a language interpreter. The clerk will give you a date and time for the hearing.

Step 2: Fill out these forms.

Motion to Appoint a Language Interpreter and Notice of Hearing - Click for the FORM 

Guided Motion Form in English - Click Here

Guided Motion and Order Forms in Spanish - Click Here

  • Fill out this form completely in blue or black ink and sign it
  • Remember to
    • write the name of your primary language,
    • write your name and all of the requested contact information,
    • write the date and time of the hearing,
    • write the full physical address of the court where the hearing will be held,
    • fill out and sign the Certificate of Service, and

Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs - Click here for the FORM

  • This form tells the judge you cannot afford the court fees.
  • Fill it out completely in blue or black ink and sign it. Do NOT leave blanks. Attach this form to your motion form.
  • You must include complete and accurate information about:
    • any government benefits you get because you are poor,
    • your household income after taxes,
    • the people who depend on you for financial support,
    • your expenses
  • Important: If you receive government benefits because you are poor, attach proof (such as a copy of an eligibility form or check) to your Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs.
  • Warning! When you sign this form you are stating under penalty of perjury that the information in the form is true and correct. This means that it is a crime to lie on this form.
  • For more information on asking for court costs and fees to be waived, read this short article: Court Fees & Fee Waivers.

Order Appointing Language Interpreter - Click Here for the FORM 

Guided Order form in English - Click Here

  • Fill out this form completely in blue or black ink (except for the judge’s signature). 

Step 3: Turn in your motion form and attached statement.

Turn in your completed Motion to Appoint a Language Interpreter and Notice of Hearing form and Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs at the clerk’s office and get a copy for both you and the other side. The clerk will “file stamp” your forms with the date and time and return the copies to you. 

Step 4: Send a file-stamped copy of your motion and attached statement to the other side.

Send a file-stamped copy of the Motion to Appoint a Language Interpreter and Notice of Hearing and attached Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs to the other side right away. If the other side has a lawyer, send it to the lawyer instead of directly to the other side.

Send it:

  • by fax, or
  • by email, or
  • by commercial delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS), or
  • by personal delivery, or
  • by certified mail, return receipt requested and regular mail. (This way may take too long.)

Keep proof that you sent the Motion to Appoint a Language Interpreter and Notice of Hearing and attached Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs to the other side. You must bring it to your hearing.   

Step 5: Go to the hearing on your motion to appoint a language interpreter.

Be ready to explain to the judge that you need a language interpreter because you cannot communicate in English. Bring proof that you sent the Motion to Appoint a Language Interpreter and Notice of Hearing and attached Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs to the other side. Bring the Order Appointing Language Interpreter for the judge to sign.

Where can I read the law about asking for a language interpreter?