Lusk Law Maryland Lawyers

Maryland Replevin & Detinue Attorney

When someone takes possession of another person’s property and refuses to return it, the owner has legal recourse through two types of actions in the Maryland court system: replevin and detinue.

At Lusk Law, LLC, we have extensive experience handling replevin and detinue claims, which are generally litigated in district court. They are not only well-versed in the intricacies of the law and able to advise their clients on which course of action is most appropriate for each situation, but they are also sensitive to the emotional nature of these types of cases. When two people are at loggerheads, emotions run high and tempers flare. The attorneys at Lusk Law, LLC work hard to resolve these disputes expeditiously for their clients so all parties can move on with their lives.

Replevin Law Attorneys

A replevin action delivers a temporary decision that may enable the plaintiff to repossess the disputed property until a final ruling is rendered via detinue. When a plaintiff files a replevin claim, a hearing called a show cause hearing is scheduled with a judge. The defendant is issued a summons and both parties are given the opportunity to present evidence. Ownership or having title to the property is not necessarily enough to win the case.

The court decides who should have possession of the item or items and issues a document called a writ of replevin. If the judge rules in the plaintiff’s favor, the writ — which is enforceable by the sheriff’s office — will order the defendant to return the property. If the plaintiff repossesses the items, he or she may be required to post bond for the value. That’s because a replevin decision is temporary and may be overturned. Once the show cause hearing is finished, the replevin case automatically becomes a detinue action.

Detinue Law Attorneys

All replevin cases become detinue actions by default, but plaintiffs may skip replevin altogether and file a detinue claim directly. If you aren’t sure which course of action makes sense in your situation, the attorneys at Lusk Law, LLC are happy to discuss the pros and cons of each and help you come to an informed decision.

In a detinue case, the decision of the judge is final, but the total process takes longer than a replevin action. As with replevin, after you file, the defendant will be issued a summons. You will both be given the opportunity to present evidence, testimony, and witnesses.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge will issue a decision. In a replevin claim, the plaintiff may recover only the contested item itself. But with detinue, the plaintiff may seek return of the property or its monetary value. They may even ask to be compensated for damage or money lost due to the item’s absence. For example: a landscaper may request lost wages due to not having possession of his equipment.

Deciding Between Replevin and Detinue

If you would like to recover personal property through the Maryland court system, your first step is to call an experienced replevin and detinue attorney. They will advise you on which action is best for you, help gather evidence and build a strong case, and advise you through every step of the process. When deciding on which type of claim to file, consider the following:

  • With replevin, you may reclaim the property only. With detinue, you may ask for monetary compensation for the entire item, damage to it, or money lost due to its absence.
  • Replevin cases are decided more quickly, but they may be overturned in the subsequent detinue action.
  • Detinue cases under $30,000 and all replevin claims are filed in district court. Detinue actions over $30,000 go to circuit court, which entails higher fees.

Filing a Replevin or Detinue Claim in Maryland

Once you’ve consulted with your attorney and decided to proceed with a replevin or detinue claim, there are several steps to the filing process.

  • The plaintiff files a complaint form with the court. This document must include a description of the property and its value, a statement that the defendant is in possession of the property unjustly, a declaration that you need the items returned (or, with detinue, compensation for their worth, damage, or money lost).
  • The plaintiff must pay a filing fee.
  • The court issues either a writ of summons or a show cause order, which notifies the defendant of the suit.
  • Once the defendant has been served, a document called an affidavit of service is submitted to the court.

Once all these steps have been completed, a hearing will be scheduled.

Know Your Legal Rights

If you’d like to file a replevin or detinue action, or you’ve been served and need advice on how to defend yourself, call Maryland’s Advocates for Life’s Obstacles and Opportunities — Lusk Law, LLC — to request a consultation.

Attorney Rebekah Damen Lusk

Rebekah Damen Lusk is the Founder and Managing Member of Lusk Law, LLC. Rebekah brings personal experiences as a small business owner, real estate investor, landlord, and farm owner to the task of practicing law and working with clients. Her practice areas include general civil litigation, business, employment, landlord/tenant, real estate, and equine/animal law. [ Attorney Bio ]