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Timbs v Indiana Supreme Court Decision Hopefully Leads to Restoration of Civil Liberties

Feb 20, 2019 by AFP

MANCHESTER, NH – Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire (AFP-NH) today commented on the unanimous Supreme Court ruling in Timbs v. Indiana that found the Constitution’s 8th amendment prohibition on excessive fines applies not just to the federal government, but to the states, as well. The ruling could have major ramifications for a law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture in which police may seize personal property from individuals without first charging them of a crime.

 AFP-NH State Director Greg Moore issued the following statement:

“We’re encouraged by the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that states should also be forbidden from levying unconstitutional excessive fines against its citizens. We hope this means an end to the days of government forcing innocent people to give up their property through the practice of civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture is essentially Robin Hood in reverse, taking from the poor to give the government. States should end this controversial practice and restore property rights and civil liberty protections to their citizens.”

“Absent total abolishment of the program, New Hampshire lawmakers should at the very least close the civil asset forfeiture loophole that enables the federal government to adopt a case and seize assets, giving kickbacks to local and state law enforcement. Civil asset forfeiture should be replaced with criminal asset forfeiture, ensuring innocent owners are given due process before a seizure can be justified.”

Background:

The defendant in Timbs v Indiana, Tyson Timbs, argued that, by seizing his $42,000 Land Rover as part of an arrest for a drug sale of less than $250, Indiana law enforcement levied an excessive fine against him since the value of his car far exceeded the maximum fine he would have faced as a punishment for his arrest.

Today, the Supreme Court agreed that the 8th amendment ban on excessive fines, like the one imposed on Timbs, should be incorporated by states. To learn more about the case, click here.

In 2016, AFP-NH along with the ACLU and Institute for Justice  led the fight to eliminate civil asset forfeiture in New Hampshire.