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Take Back Your Property Through Replevin

Last Modified: 02/05/2020

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Replevin is the legal action you can use to get your personal property back when someone has wrongfully taken it and refuses to give it back. If this happens, you may also recover financial losses as a result of the wrongful taking of property or because you were unable to use the property for a period of time. 

Replevin requires you to file in a court of law. If you file a lawsuit in court, you become the Plaintiff and the person you are suing becomes a Defendant.

WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

You may wish to file a lawsuit in court to obtain a judgment for replevin in order to:

  • Get back items lent to another person.
  • Return stolen goods to the business or individual they were stolen from.
  • Transfer ownership of collateral for a loan that wasn’t paid back.
  • Obtain an electricity meter from the property of someone whose electricity has been cut off and who shows no intention of paying their electric bill.
  • Get personal items back from the police after they have finished using it as evidence.
  • Get back items rented out to a customer after the rental term is over.

You may file a civil lawsuit (non-criminal lawsuit) in court to obtain a court document called a “Writ of Replevin.” You can use a Writ of Replevin to release personal property or to obtain payment from an individual who has failed to return the property.

You must choose a circuit court that has jurisdiction over your property. That court may be in the country where the property is located, in the place where the contract was signed, in the place where the defendant resides, or the place where the dispute or problem occurred. 

In an action for replevin, you must provide a written, detailed description of the property that has been taken from you for identification purposes. You must also include:

  • A statement of the value of the property,
  • An explanation of why you believe you are the rightful owner of the property, 
  • Why you are entitled to have the property back, and 
  • An explanation of how the person or organization holding the property is wrong to keep it from you.

If is also helpful to provide photographs, model numbers, serial numbers, or other proof of ownership of the items that you want to have returned to you.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?

The steps for filing a replevin action with the court may vary based on the value of the property you’re trying to recover. If you are attempting to recover property worth less than $5,000, a pre-trial conference will be set, and you will be given a date and time to go to court. 

If it’s valued more than $5,000, there is no pre-trial conference, and the other party will be required to respond in 20 days. They must respond by filing an answer to your request with the court. If they respond, you can contact the court to set a final hearing. If they do not respond to the final hearing, you can request a default final judgment from the court.

  1. Prepare a Complaint for Replevin. Attach any proof of a bill of sale, title to the property, and photographs of the property to your complaint. The replevin complaint should include a complete and accurate description of the property sought.
  2. Prepare Replevin Summons (Notice to Appear in Court).
  3. File the original documents with the court.
  4. Serve copies of each document on the defendant(s).
  5. If the defendant does not respond within 20 days, file for a default.
  6. After default or final hearing, the judge will enter a final judgment. Then, the clerk will issue a Writ of Replevin.
  7. Take the Writ of Replevin to local law enforcement, who will assist you in getting your property back. There may be a cost charged by the sheriff’s office that has to assist you with taking back your property.

WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING ACTION.

Before filing an action for replevin, you must know the name and address of the defendant.

Determine where the property is located in order to file your action in the correct court. 

Next Steps

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