What Are Replevin/Detinue Actions?

If another person has taken — or borrowed and refused to return — property belonging to you, you may be wondering whether you have legal recourse to recover the item or items. Yes, you do, in the form of replevin and detinue actions. These two types of cases are very similar, but there are a few key differences. The lawyers at Lusk Law, LLC are happy to sit down with you and discuss the specifics of each type of action and which is most appropriate for your situation.

A Replevin Action Is Quicker, but Temporary

If you want the fastest possible return of your property, a replevin action may be the best first step. When you file for replevin, you must demonstrate in a Show Cause hearing that you are entitled to gain possession of the property right away. Just because you own the item or have title to it does not necessarily mean you will win your case. Additionally, the Defendant has the right to appear at the Show Cause and dispute that you are entitled to or own the Property. If the court rules in your favor, the defendant will be served with a writ of replevin, a document telling them to return the item to you. The writ also gives the sheriff authority to seize the property. The Court will most likely require that you post a bond for the value of the disputed property, if the property has any value, in order to take possession of the disputed property. That’s because a replevin action can be reversed in the final detinue decision. After the Show Cause hearing, your replevin case will automatically become a detinue action. You do not have to file separately.

A Detinue Case Is the Final Decision

If you don’t need immediate possession of your property or you just want the value of the property, you may skip replevin and file directly for detinue. These cases take a little longer to resolve, and the decision of the judge is final and permanent. While with replevin, you may seek only the return of the property itself, with detinue you may seek recovery of the item or its monetary value. You can also win compensation from the defendant for damage to the property or money lost due to its absence (for example, if it’s something you require for work). After you file for detinue, the defendant will be issued a summons and notice. At court, each side will be given the opportunity to present their case with witnesses, exhibits, and other supporting evidence.

What to Expect in the Courtroom

All replevin and most detinue actions are litigated in district court. (High-value detinue actions may be heard in circuit court.) District court cases tend to be limited in scope and resolved relatively quickly. The court doesn’t handle disputes worth more than $30,000, and there are no juries. A judge alone decides each case. While replevin and detinue actions are relatively simple legal matters, you still need a good lawyer to explain your options, help you gather evidence and witnesses, and prepare and present your side. At Lusk Law, LLC — “Advocates for Life’s Obstacles and Opportunities” — we are experienced district court lawyers who will fight for the return of your property. Call us to schedule an appointment.