from the Grant Superior Court 1, No. 27D01-1308-MI-92 The
Honorable Jeffrey D. Todd, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Justin F. Roebel Deputy Attorney General.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE David W. Stone IV Stone Law Office
& Legal Research Anderson, IN.
State sought to forfeit Defendant's Land Rover after he
used it to transport illegal drugs. The trial court held the
proposed forfeiture would violate the Eighth Amendment's
Excessive Fines Clause. We conclude the Excessive Fines
Clause does not bar the State from forfeiting Defendant's
vehicle because the United States Supreme Court has not held
that the Clause applies to the States through the Fourteenth
and Procedural History
Tyson Timbs, used life-insurance proceeds after his
father's death to pay $42, 058.30 for a Land Rover in
January 2013. Over the next four months, Timbs regularly
drove the Land Rover between Marion and Richmond, Indiana, to
buy and transport heroin. Timbs's trafficking came to the
attention of a confidential police informant, who told a
member of the Joint Effort Against Narcotics team that he
could buy heroin from Timbs. Police set up a controlled buy,
and the informant and an undercover detective bought two
grams of heroin from Timbs for $225. Police made another
controlled buy a couple of weeks later, acquiring another two
grams of heroin for $160. During the second buy, the
detective set up a third controlled buy with Timbs. The day
the third buy was to occur, police apprehended Timbs during a
traffic stop. The Land Rover had 1, 237 miles on its odometer
when Timbs bought it in January, and more than 17, 000 miles
when police seized the vehicle in late May.
2013, the State charged Timbs with two counts of Class B
felony dealing in a controlled substance and one count of
Class D felony conspiracy to commit theft. Nearly two years
later, in 2015, Timbs pleaded guilty to one count of Class B
felony dealing and one count of Class D felony conspiracy to
commit theft in exchange for the State's dismissing the
remaining charge. The trial court accepted the plea and
sentenced Timbs to six years, with one year executed in
community corrections and five years suspended to probation.
Timbs also agreed to pay police costs of $385, an
interdiction fee of $200, court costs of $168, a bond fee of
$50, and a $400 fee for undergoing a drug-and-alcohol
assessment with the probation department.
a couple months of bringing criminal charges, the State also
sought to forfeit the Land Rover. After a bench trial, the
court issued written findings that denied the State's
action, concluding that forfeiture would be an excessive fine
under the Eighth Amendment. "The amount of the
forfeiture sought is excessive, and is grossly
disproportional to the gravity of the Defendant's
offense." The trial court observed that the maximum
statutory fine for Timbs's Class B felony was $10, 000 on
the day he was arrested and noted the vehicle was worth
approximately four times this amount when he bought it just a
few months earlier. The court made no finding about the
vehicle's value on Timbs's arrest date. Based on its
holding, the court ordered the State to release the vehicle
immediately. A divided Court of Appeals affirmed. State
v. Timbs, 62 N.E.3d 472 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016). We granted
transfer, thus vacating the Court of Appeals' opinion,
and now reverse.
addressing whether forfeiture of Timbs's Land Rover would
be an excessive fine, we must decide the antecedent question
of whether the Excessive Fines Clause applies to forfeitures
by the State. Whether a Bill of Rights provision applies to
the States is a purely legal question. We review such
questions de novo. State v. Harper, 8 N.E.3d 694,
696 (Ind. 2014). Unlike legal questions, a trial court's
factual determinations are reviewed for clear error.
Fischer v. Heymann, 12 N.E.3d 867, 870 (Ind. 2014).
We will not reweigh evidence or determine the credibility of
witnesses, and we will consider only the evidence favorable
to the judgment and the logical inferences drawn from it.
Ind. Trial Rule 52(A); Hitch v. State, 51 N.E.3d
216, 226 (Ind. 2016).
I.The United States Supreme Court has never enforced
the Excessive Fines Clauseagainst the