Timbs v. Indiana

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: February 20, 2019
  • Case #: 17-1091
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C.J., and BREYER, ALITO, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH JJ., joined. GORSUCH, J., filed a concurring opinion. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Excessive Fines Clause of the Eight Amendment is an incorporated protection applicable to the states under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Petitioner owed fees and costs totaling $1,203 resulting from a plea of guilty to dealing a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft. At the time of Petitioner’s arrest, his $43,000 SUV was seized by the State of Indiana. The State then brought a civil suit requesting forfeiture of the SUV. The trial court found that the forfeiture was excessive in violation of the Eighth Amendment and the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed. However, the Indiana Supreme Court held that the excessiveness of the fine need not be decided because the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment had not been incorporated to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. The United States Supreme Court held that the Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Protections granted by the Bill of Rights are incorporated if they are fundamental to liberty or deeply rooted in history and tradition. The right to be free from excessive fines can be traced back to the Magna Carta which required fines be "proportioned to the wrong." This right was written into early United States law, eventually making its way into the Bill of Rights. The freedom from excessive fines serves to prevent the use of fines for political retaliation and impermissible revenue generation. VACATED and REMANDED.

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