The Eighth Amendment denies federal officials authority to require excessive bail, impose excessive fines, or inflict cruel and unusual punishments.

In case of Timbs v. Indiana, 139 S. Ct. 682 (2019), the Supreme Court has held that the Due Process Clause incorporates the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause

Background of the case

Tyson Timbs purchased a Land Rover for approximately $42,000 in January 2013 using the proceeds from his father’s life insurance policy. During the following four months, Timbs used the vehicle for multiple trips within Indiana to transport heroin. After a series of controlled purchases involving a confidential informant, Timbs was arrested at a traffic stop. At the time of his arrest in May, the Land Rover had approximately 15,000 more miles on it than when he purchased it in January.

The state charged Timbs with two charges of felony dealing and one charge of conspiracy to commit theft. He later pleaded guilty to one charge of felony dealing and one charge of conspiracy to commit theft in exchange for the state dismissing the remaining charge. After accepting the plea, the trial court sentenced Timbs to six years, five of which were to be suspended. Timbs also agreed to pay fees and costs totaling approximately $1200.

In addition, the state sought to forfeit Timbs’ Land Rover. The trial court denied the state’s action, ruling that the forfeiture would be an excessive fine under the Eighth Amendment, characterizing it as grossly disproportional to the seriousness of the offense. The court also noted that the maximum statutory fine for Timbs’ felony dealing charge was $10,000, and the vehicle was worth roughly four times that amount when Timbs purchased it. The trial court ordered the state to release the vehicle immediately. The court of appeals affirmed.

The Indiana Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the U.S. Supreme Court had never clearly incorporated the Eighth Amendment against the states under the Fourteenth Amendment. The court also ruled that the state had proven its entitlement to forfeit the Land Rover under state law.

(Ref: “Timbs v. Indiana.” Oyez, www.oyez.org/cases/2018/17-1091. Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.)

What did the Supreme Court say?

The question before the Supreme Court was – “Has the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause been incorporated against the states under the Fourteenth Amendment?”

The Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the states. The court termed it as “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty” and “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”
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Why the verdict of Timbs v. Indiana case is important?

The Term, in Timbs v. Indiana verdict by the Supreme Court reiterates the right to be free from excessively harsh punishment at the hands of the government

Get help for curative remedies!

If you have been subjected to excessive bail or imposed excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments, you have right to curative remedies.

For years Joel Silberman served as an Assistant Prosecutor with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. He will appeal against the injustice you may have suffered to get you a justice you deserve.

Call (201)-420-1913 today to schedule an appointment.

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