In a recent post here, we talked about an action in conversion.
I received an inquiry as to what this meant.
In general terms, conversion is an interference with someone else’s ownership of personal property. It is a general intent tort, or a civil action. (Although there can be criminal conversion)
Conversion deprives the rightful owner of the possession and use of his /her property.
The defendant's (the one who wrongfully is in possession of the property) reasons for the act generally cannot be used as an excuse. It is irrelevant that the defendant made a mistake in possessing the property.
The standard remedy for conversion is a money judgment for damages in an amount equal to the fair market value of the property or an immediate return of the property. Punitive damages (if a defendant commits an act that is malicious or intentional, possible excess money damages may be awarded to punish the defendant), are also possible because conversion is an intentional tort.
If you sneak into the garage next door and take your neighbor's golf clubs and keep them for yourself, he/she may bring an action against you for conversion.