In Timbs v. Indiana, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the States under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
Tyson Timbs was convicted in state court of dealing controlled substances. At the time of Timbs’s arrest, the police seized a Land Rover SUV Timbs had purchased for $42,000 with money he received from an insurance policy when his father died. The State sought civil forfeiture of Timbs’s vehicle, charging that the SUV had been used to transport heroin. Observing that Timbs recently had purchased the vehicle for more than four times the maximum $10,000 monetary fine assessable against him for his drug conviction, the trial court denied the State’s request. The vehicle’s forfeiture, the court determined, would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of Timbs’s offense, and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause. The Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed, but the Indiana Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Excessive Fines Clause constrains only federal action and is inapplicable to state impositions. However, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed with the Indiana Supreme Court, holding that the 8th Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is applicable to the states.