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Indiana Supreme Court Opinion: State of Indiana v. Tyson Timbs

October 28, 2019
By Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush

"How should courts determine whether a punitive, in rem forfeiture is an excessive fine?"

On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Indiana Supreme Court opinion held the forfeiture of Tyson Timbs' Land Rover for a drug-dealing offense in 2013 would be excessive if it was disproportionate to the underlying offense.

"We accordingly hold that a use-based in rem fine is excessive if (1) the property was not an instrumentality of the underlying crimes, or (2) the property was an instrumentality, but the harshness of the punishment would be grossly disproportional to the gravity of the underlying offenses and the owner’s culpability for the property’s misuse."

The case was remanded to a state trial court to determine if the fine (the forfeiture) was excessive in Timbs' case.