Indiana Gov’t Finally Returns Vehicle It Unconstitutionally Seized to Owner

‘It was a weird feeling today. I didn’t believe that the vehicle would be mine again until I got home and saw it in my driveway…’

Supreme Court Will Likely Apply Excessive Fines Clause to States, Uphold Bill of Rights
Tyson Timbs/PHOTO: Institute for Justice

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Tyson Timbs, the 37-year-old Indiana resident who won his case before the Supreme Court last year, has finally had his vehicle returned to him after the state government seized his $40,000 Land Rover when they arrested him for selling $400 worth of heroin.

This seizure was unnecessary and excessive, according to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Timbs has a right to “the protection against excessive fines.”

An Indiana trial court upheld this ruling earlier this year and ordered the state to return Timbs’s vehicle. And it did: nearly seven years after his arrest, Timbs arrived home one day to find his Land Rover in his driveway.

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“It was a weird feeling today. I didn’t believe that the vehicle would be mine again until I got home and saw it in my driveway,” Timbs said.

The Indiana attorney general is appealing the trial court’s decision, but while that appeal is debated the vehicle will remain with Timbs, according to the Institute for Justice.

The attorney general’s appeal will likely be unsuccessful, since Timbs has already proven “by a significant margin” that his crime did not match his punishment, according to Judge Jeffrey Todd, who ordered the state to return his vehicle earlier this year.

“The State sought forfeiture of [Timbs’s] only asset; an asset he purchased using life insurance proceeds rather than drug money, and a tool essential to maintaining employment, obtaining treatment, and reducing the likelihood that he would ever again commit another criminal offense,” Todd wrote in his opinion.

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The state’s continued determination to take Timbs’s vehicle away proves just how “relentless” the state’s “forfeiture machine” is, said IJ senior attorney Wesley Hottot.

It is “a profoundly unjust exercise of power,” he said, and “one of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today.”

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