What is replevin?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Replevin, also known as claim and delivery, is a law that allows people to recover goods that they believe are rightfully theirs and that are being withheld from them. This recovery is typically done by suing through a court of law. It is considered to be an equitable remedy, since it involves a court ordering a person to return goods, instead of a court ordering someone to pay for the value of the goods (which is more common). 

Understanding Replevin

Replevin can apply in a variety of situations, including but not limited to situations in which an individual’s property was temporarily held, and should have been released back to them, but wasn’t. It may also occur when two parties both have rights to possession and one has more right than another, but the other party will not release possession.

As an example, creditors may sometimes take items from a debtor in an attempt to satisfy a debt. This may be done legally, such as in the repossession of a vehicle; or it may occur illegally, such as a landlord locking a person out of his or her home and holding his or her belongings for back rent.

In the first situation, should the person pay the fees and back debts due on the vehicle, making it eligible for release – and the creditor does not release it – the individual may sue for replevin. In the second situation, the individual could directly sue the landlord to release the illegally-held goods in the same manner. While the person whose property is being withheld could technically sue for monetary damages in these cases in order to collect the dollar amount that the items are worth, replevin may be appropriate if the person wants to get his specific items back instead of just being compensated for those items. 

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Getting Help

If you wish to bring an action for replevin, it is in your best interests to consult with a lawyer who can help you through the legal process. 

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