The legal action to maintain if you are trying to get back possession of personal property wrongfully withheld or taken from you is called “Replevin”. It is a civil case that you can file against the individual or entity in wrongful possession of your property in order to get your property back, as well as additional money damages if seen fit.
Personal property encompasses a wide range, but it does not include real property. Currently, the claim amount is limited to $25,000 in County Court. Anything over that amount means the plaintiff needs to file in District Court. Cases for replevin are also regularly maintained with other claims seeking return of property or damages including conversion, civil theft, trespass to chattels, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment.
To start the process, you will need to file a Complaint for Replevin along with documentation indicating the property being wrongful withheld, and have the defendant summoned to court to show cause for their wrongful possession. While preparing, ensure you have the following information:
The defendant also needs to be personally served the filed documents so they know there is an action taken against them. The person serving the papers cannot be associated with the case and must be over 18 years of age.
After filing the forms and serving the defendant the papers, a court date will be set. During the preliminary hearing (typically called a show cause hearing), you or your attorney will make the case as to why the property should be returned. Assuming the defendant does not admit your allegations and return all your property outright at that point, a final hearing will likely be set.
At the end of the replevin proceeding, there are several possibilities, the court will either rule in your favor, meaning the defendant is ordered to return the property to you, or rule against you and decide that the defendant’s possession and control over the property is rightful.
During the proceeding, it is the court can order the property be held by the court itself, a neutral third party, or the County Sheriff, to hold it for protection until the final ruling. If this is the case, the plaintiff may require you to pay a bond for the seizure of the property.
As with nearly every type of lawsuit, you can get through a Replevin case without an attorney. However, it might not be your best bet. The Colorado Judicial Branch website does a good job of outlining the steps you need to take when recovering personal property. But filing out the forms correctly could be a daunting task if you aren’t familiar with the law. Attorneys experienced with property retrieval lawsuits can also employ a variety of strategies to make the safe return of your property more likely.
In addition, you’ll need to consider the hearing process, which means providing evidence that shows the property is yours. An attorney that specializes in these types of cases would be more qualified to present your case, call witnesses to testify on your behalf, and argue for the rightful return or your belongings.
If you find yourself in the middle of a Replevin case, BAM Family Law can help. Our team of attorneys not only uses their expertise but advocates for their clients during these emotional times. If you’re looking for assistance or need to talk over your case with an attorney, don’t hesitate to contact our office or schedule an appointment for a consultation.