to file a claim for the return of property
You own a furniture
rental company and a customer has not
paid the rental fee. How do you get the
Your former roommate damaged your television. Can you get compensated?
I need a Lawyer?
to file a Claim
to complete a complaint form
to Serve the Summons
happens at the hearing?
Happens at Trial?
for a Jury Trial & Right to appeal
alternative to court
Self Help Center: Limited legal services for people who are not represented by an attorney.
The Self Help Center is open Monday -
from 8:30am - 4:30pm.
Phone assistance: 410-260-1392. Hours: 8:30 am - 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm.
Please note: the Self Help Center will be closed all day on May 16, 2013 and will close at 12:00 pm on the following dates: April 12, 2013, July 12, 2013, August 27, 2013, September 27, 2013, & December 13, 2013.
For District Court Civil Cases Only
are Replevins and Detinues?
A replevin is a legal action that allows you to seek the return of property
prior to a trial. A detinue seeks the return of property or compensation for
its value, but does not allow for a hearing prior to trial to determine immediate
possession of property. Both a replevin and a detinue require a trial to determine who is the rightful
owner of the property and any possible damages.
Seeks the return of property and possible damages. You may be required to file:
1. Complaint (form DC/CV1),
2. Proof of Service (form DC/CV 2), and
3. Show Cause Order (form DC/CV 4).
forms are filed in the District Court, regardless of the amount
in dispute. This action provides for a Show Cause hearing where
immediate possession of property may be determined prior to a
Seeks the return of property or compensation for its value and possible damages.
This action requires only the filing of the Complaint form.
You file in District Court for actions up to $5,000. If the claim is between
$5,000 and $30,000, the form may be filed in either the District or a circuit
court. Detinues for more than $30,000 must be filed in a circuit court.
I need a Lawyer?
Filing either a replevin or a detinue does not require the services of a lawyer.
However, a lawyer will offer you legal advice and protect your interests before
You should consider your skills in explaining your case to the judge, your
understanding of the law, and your willingness to spend time and resources
on the case. Corporations and other business entities are required to be represented
by a lawyer.
How to file a Claim
Filing a replevin or detinue requires four steps:
1. You [the plaintiff] file with the court the Complaint form. In the case
of a replevin, you also must file the Request for Service and the Show Cause
2. You pay the filing fee. A fee also may apply if you want the court to “serve” the
defendant with the summons.
3. The court issues a Writ of Summons and/or a Show Cause Order to officially
notify the defendant that a suit has been filed.
4. Proof is submitted to the court that the defendant has been served the summons.
How to Complete a Complaint Form
The Complaint form details the most important facts about your case;
it tells the court:
• the name and address of the person(s) or business bringing the suit,
• the name and address of the person(s) or business against whom you are
• why you are filing the claim, and
• the remedy you are seeking (return of property, replacement value, damages,
It is important to use proper and complete names and addresses. If filing against
a business, always use the full, formal business name and include the name
of the person to be served. Be sure that all information is accurate; mistakes
could cause your case to be delayed or dismissed. If you have questions about
the form, speak to a District Court clerk or see the Court’s Small Claims
How to Serve the Summons
In order for your case to be heard in court, the defendant must be served the
proper forms within the time frame specified and according to the law. The
summons can be served only by certified mail, private process server (a person
or business hired to deliver the summons) or by a sheriff or constable. If
you are serving the defendant by private process server, it is your responsibility
to notify the court that the defendant has been served properly. Failure to
serve a summons properly may lead to dismissal of the case.
to handle Defendant’s Response
Once served, a defendant may respond to your lawsuit by:
• attempting to negotiate a settlement,
• ignoring the complaint,
• filing a counterclaim against you,
• trying to get the case dismissed, and
• defending the case at the hearing and trial.
You have the option to negotiate a settlement before going to trial [see Mediation,
right]. Be prepared at trial to provide evidence to support your claim and
evidence to disprove any counter argument.
What happens at the hearing?
If you filed a replevin, the defendant will be served with the Show Cause Order
and the complaint. A hearing will generally be scheduled within three weeks
of the date that the order was issued. At the hearing, the judge will listen
to both sides and decide what to do temporarily with the property prior to
trial. If the Show Cause Order is granted, the plaintiff may be required to
post bond in the amount of the value of goods being sought. A trial date will
If you filed a detinue, no hearing will be held. You and the defendant will
be notified of the trial date.
What Happens at Trial?
Whether you filed a replevin or a detinue, at the trial you must be prepared
to present your case; have any witnesses ready and available to testify; and
offer evidence, exhibits, and material to support your claim.
You should maintain original documents of evidence in your files and present
copies to the court, unless otherwise instructed. Evidence may be any documents,
such as receipts, photographs, contracts or letters that support your claim.
Exhibits may be documents that explain your claim.
If the defendant ignores the summons and fails to appear in court, you still
must appear and present your evidence. The judge issues a verdict, awarding
possession of the property and the amount of damages, if any.
Right to a Jury Trial
If you want a jury trial, the case will be transferred to circuit court.
Right to Appeal
Both parties have the right to appeal verdicts in District Court cases.
The District Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (ADR) offers
mediation free of charge. It is less formal, time-consuming and costly than
going to court. A trained mediator works with both sides to resolve the problem
and come up with a mutually agreeable solution. If mediation proves unsuccessful,
you may still seek resolution in court.
For more information, contact:
Dispute Resolution Office
911A Commerce Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: (410) 260-1676
Fax: (410) 260-3536
District Court Self Help Center
The Self Help Center provides limited legal services for people who are not represented by an attorney. Limited legal services include help completing forms, answering questions about legal problems, and preparing for your day in court. If you need additional help, we may refer you to mediation, other legal organizations, or the private bar.