Timbs v. Indiana

Petitioner used life insurance proceeds to purchase a Land Rover for $41,558.30. He used the vehicle to transport heroin worth a total of $385. He was arrested and his vehicle was seized. After pleading guilty to one count of dealing in a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to commit theft, petitioner was sentenced to six years – one year in home detention and 5 years of probation. He was required to pay $385 in police costs, an interdiction fee of $200, court costs of $168, a bond fee of $50, and $400 for drug and alcohol assessments with the probation department. The State then filed a complaint to forfeit petitioner’s vehicle. Petitioner argued that the forfeiture was excessive in violation of the Eight Amendment’s excessive fines clause.


The trial court and the Indiana Court of Appeals Court held that the forfeiture was excessive, in part because the maximum statutory fine for dealing with controlled substances was $10,000. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed, holding that the excessive fines clause was not incorporated against the states under the Fourteenth Amendment and reversed. This case is now pending before the United States Supreme Court. Argument was heard on November 28, 2018.

You can find relevant case documents via SCOTUSblog, including a long list of amici curae. In particular, FFJC filed a brief in support of the petitioner alongside the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and R Street Institute; the American Bar Association filed another; and the Juvenile Law Center filed another alongside 40 other organizations.

Eight Amendment (Excessive Fines Clause), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (alleging due process and equal protection violations)
17-1091 (27S04-1702-MI-70)
Institute for Justice