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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

SCOTUS Weighs Limits on Police Seizure of Property

Timbs v. Indiana could open floodgates of asset forfeiture cases

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case which could have a profound impact on the ability of states to seize the property of ordinary citizens.

The case, Timbs v. Indiana, is expected by some court watchers to continue the court's steely-eyed suspicion of state laws that concern the seizing of property allegedly associated with criminal activity.

Directly at issue in the case is whether or not the state of Indiana was justified in seizing plaintiff Tyson Timbs's 2012 Land Rover. Timbs, who has a history of opioid abuse, used the car several times in the process of selling heroin to undercover narcotics officers in Indiana. The third time he attempted such a sale, he was pulled over and arrested. The Land Rover, which contained no drugs and was worth some $31,000, was seized.

Timbs plead guilty, and was given a year of home detention and five years' probation. Separately, the state sought to forfeit Timbs's car to itself. A lower court found that "while the negative impact on our society of trafficking in illegal drugs is substantial, a forfeiture of approximately four (4) times the maximum monetary fine is disproportional to [Petitioner's] illegal conduct."

As such, that court concluded that the forfeiture violated the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits "excessive fines." The state appealed that decision to the Indiana Supreme Court, which rejected it on the grounds that the Supreme Court "has never held that the States are subject to the Excessive Fines Clause."


1 comment:

lmclain said...

Shoot highway robbers, no matter their origin.

Theft and robbery are theft and robbery. Having a badge doesn't make it any different. In fact, it makes it WORSE of a crime.

We used to catch tax collectors on lonely roads and kill them, too.
Oppress "we, the people" at your own risk.