US Supreme Court Limits Civil Asset Forfeiture

On February 20, 2019, the United States Supreme Court decided Timbs v. Indiana. In this case, Tyson Timbs was arrested and the police seized his Land Rover which he purchased for $42,000. Mr. Timbs eventually pleaded guilty to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft.

The State of Indiana filed a civil forfeiture lawsuit against Mr. Timbs for the Land Rover. However, the trial court ruled that the loss of the value of the vehicle would grossly exceed the normal punishment for his offenses.

The Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed the trial court’s decision, but the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution’s protection against excessive fines only applies to federal cases.

The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court which ruled that the protection against excessive fines under the Eighth Amendment does apply to the States under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

This decision should limit law enforcement’s ability to seize an individual’s property under civil forfeiture laws. However, if your property is still seized by law enforcement, you should contact an attorney right away.

The Law Office of Jason T. Komninos is conveniently located within walking distance of the Bergen County Superior Court. Call today for a free consultation – 201.343.4622