INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana man whose Land Rover worth $35,000 was seized after his conviction for selling $400 worth of heroin will get to keep the vehicle more than two years after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with him for a key ruling on criminal fines.
The Indiana Supreme Court’s 4-1 decision Thursday in favor of Tyson Timbs of Marion comes after a legal fight that began in 2013 and resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment ban on excessive fines applies to states as well as the federal government.
Indiana’s high court rejected arguments from the state attorney general’s office that the vehicle seizure was proper because it was used in commission of a crime.
“We conclude that, under the totality of the circumstances, the harshness of the Land Rover’s forfeiture was grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the underlying dealing offense,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote in the majority opinion.
Timbs bought the Land Rover with with some of the life insurance money he received after his father died. His attorneys argued that the loss of the vehicle hurt his ability to hold a job after completing drug treatment programs.
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