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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Chapter 538
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F.S. 538.08
538.08 Stolen goods; complaint for return.
(1) If the secondhand dealer contests the identification, ownership, or right of possession of the property, the person alleging ownership or right of possession of the property may, provided that a timely report of the theft of the goods was made to the proper authorities, bring an action for replevin in the county or circuit court. The complaint may be in substantially the following form:

Plaintiff A. B. sues defendant C. D., and alleges:

1. This is an action to recover possession of personal property in     County, Florida.

2. The description of the property is:   (list property)  . To the best of plaintiff’s knowledge, information, and belief, the value of the property is $   .

3. Plaintiff is the lawful owner of the property or is entitled to the possession of the property under a security agreement dated   ,   (year)  , a copy of which is attached.

4. To plaintiff’s best knowledge, information, and belief, the property is located at     .

5. The property is wrongfully detained by defendant. Defendant came into possession of the property by   (describe method of possession)  . To plaintiff’s best knowledge, information, and belief, defendant detains the property because   (give reasons)  .

6. The property has not been taken under an execution or attachment against plaintiff’s property.

(2) The filing fees shall be waived by the clerk of the court, and the service fees shall be waived by the sheriff. The court shall award the prevailing party attorney fees and costs. In addition, when the filing party prevails in the replevin action, the court shall order payment of filing fees to the clerk and service fees to the sheriff.
(3) Upon the filing of the complaint, the court shall set a hearing to be held at the earliest possible time. The plaintiff is entitled to the summary procedure provided in s. 51.011. Upon receipt of the complaint, the secondhand dealer shall hold the property at issue until the court determines the respective interests of the parties.
(4) In addition to the civil complaint for return remedy, the state may file a motion as part of a pending criminal case related to the property. The criminal court has jurisdiction to determine ownership, to order return or other disposition of the property, and to order appropriate restitution to any person. Such order shall be entered upon hearing after proper notice has been given to the secondhand dealer, the victim, and the defendant in the criminal case.
(5) A secondhand dealer commits a noncriminal violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.083 by a fine of up to $2,500, if all of the following occur:
(a) An owner or a lienor makes a written demand for return of the property and provides proof of ownership or proof of the right of possession to the secondhand dealer at least 5 calendar days before filing a replevin action.
(b) The secondhand dealer knows or should have known based on the proof provided under paragraph (a) that the property belongs to the owner or lienor.
(c) The secondhand dealer fails to return the property and does not file an action in interpleader to determine conflicting claims to the property.
(d) The owner or lienor prevails in the replevin action against the secondhand dealer.
History.s. 2, ch. 89-533; s. 1, ch. 90-192; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 4, ch. 93-97; s. 24, ch. 99-6; s. 4, ch. 2016-59.