State v. One `95 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, No. 23735.

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtGilbertson
PartiesSTATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. ONE 1995 SILVER JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE, VIN # 1J4GZ78Y4SC548019 and $497 In American Currency, Defendant and Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 23735.
Decision Date29 March 2006

Page 646

712 N.W.2d 646
2006 SD 29
STATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
ONE 1995 SILVER JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE, VIN # 1J4GZ78Y4SC548019 and $497 In American Currency, Defendant and Appellee.
No. 23735.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Considered on Briefs January 9, 2006.
Decided March 29, 2006.

Page 647

Lawrence E. Long, Attorney General, Jeffery J. Tronvold, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, SD, for plaintiff and appellant.

Julie A. Hofer, Sioux Falls, SD, for defendant and appellee.

Page 648

GILBERTSON, Chief Justice.


[¶ 1.] The State of South Dakota (State) appeals the circuit court's order determining forfeiture of one 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, vin # 1J4GZ78Y4SC548019, was grossly disproportionate in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article VI, Section 23 of the South Dakota Constitution. We reverse.

FACTS

[¶ 2.] On October 9, 2003, a complaint was filed by the State against the defendant vehicle for forfeiture pursuant to SDCL chapter 34-20B. The record owner of the vehicle was Adam Kroupa. The complaint alleged that:

said vehicle transported, possessed, concealed, used or was intended for use, to transport or in any manner facilitate the transportation, sale, receipt, possession or concealment of certain controlled drugs or substances or marijuana or was used for or acquired or derived from the unlawful purchase, attempted purchase, distribution or attempted distribution of any controlled drug or substance or marijuana.

The parties entered into a stipulation of facts which was the basis for the circuit court's determination in this matter. Those stipulated facts provided in relevant part:

Adam Kroupa, the Claimant in this matter, is the sole owner of the Defendant Vehicle[].

On October 7, 2003, Adam Kroupa possessed methamphetamine.

On or about October 7, 2003, Adam Kroupa placed the methamphetamine in the Defendant Vehicle.

Kroupa drove the Defendant Vehicle to 5801 West Christopher Place, in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, South Dakota, and transported the methamphetamine in the Defendant Vehicle.

Upon arrival at 5801 West Christopher Place, Adam Kroupa and Jennifer Collins rang the bell to apartment 302, where law enforcement officers were executing a search warrant for narcotics.

A subsequent search of apartment 302 revealed 6 tablets of methylene-dioxymethamphetamine, commonly called "ecstasy," a controlled substance, with a street value of approximately $150, as well as a coffee grinder with what appeared to the officers to be pseudoephedrine, a component in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Adam Kroupa is on federal parole for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and therefore the officers asked whether he was required to submit to a search of his vehicle.

Trooper Koltz was called and his drug dog alerted and indicated the presence of the odor of illegal narcotics in the Defendant Vehicle.

Detective Mathews and Trooper Koltz searched the vehicle and found the methamphetamine Kroupa had placed within the Defendant Vehicle.

Kroupa admitted the methamphetamine belonged to him.

The Defendant Vehicle was seized at the scene.

The approximate retail value of the Defendant Vehicle is $7400.

According to the detectives, the approximate street value of the methamphetamine seized from the Defendant Vehicle is $50.

Kroupa was arrested at the scene for possession of a controlled substance, and eventually entered a plea of guilty in that criminal case to Ingesting a Substance, in violation of SDCL 22-42-15.

Page 649

Based on these stipulated facts, Kroupa asserted that forfeiture of the vehicle was unconstitutionally disproportionate as an excessive fine in violation of the United States and South Dakota Constitutions. The circuit court agreed and dismissed the complaint. State appeals.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶ 3.] "[W]hen an asserted error implicates an infringement of a constitutional right, we employ a de novo standard of review." State v. Krahwinkel, 2002 SD 160, ¶ 13, 656 N.W.2d 451, 458 (citing State v. Dillon, 2001 SD 97, ¶ 12, 632 N.W.2d 37, 43). Thus, no deference is given to the circuit court's determination, and the decision is fully reviewable by this Court. Thieman v. Bohman, 2002 SD 52, ¶ 10, 645 N.W.2d 260, 262.

ANALYSIS
ISSUE

[¶ 4.] Whether the circuit court erred in determining forfeiture was grossly disproportionate in violation of the United States and South Dakota Constitutions.

[¶ 5.] This civil forfeiture action was predicated upon SDCL 34-20B-70, which is based on the federal forfeiture statutes. That statute provides:

The following are subject to forfeiture and no property right exists in them:

* * *

(4) All conveyances including aircraft, vehicles, or vessels, which transport, possess or conceal, or which are used, or intended for use, to transport, or in any manner facilitate the transportation, sale, receipt, possession or concealment of marijuana in excess of one-half pound or any quantity of any other property described in subdivision (1) or (2), except as provided in §§ 34-20B-71 to 34-20B-73, inclusive. This subdivision includes those instances in which a conveyance transports, possesses or conceals marijuana or a controlled substance as described herein without the necessity of showing that the conveyance is specifically being used to transport, possess or conceal or facilitate the transportation, possession or concealment of marijuana or a controlled substance in aid of any other offense[.]

SDCL 34-20B-70. This Court has held that "[p]ossession, transportation or concealment of any amount of methamphetamine subjects the vehicle to forfeiture under SDCL 34-20B-70." State v. One 1983 Black Toyota Pickup, 415 N.W.2d 511, 513 (S.D.1987). Moreover, forfeiture is not dependent upon a criminal conviction related to the substance. State v. One 1966 Pontiac Auto., Etc., 270 N.W.2d 362, 364 (S.D.1978). Forfeiture proceedings are civil actions against the property seized, and the standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence. SDCL 34-20B-80.

[¶ 6.] This Court has not addressed the limits imposed by the Eighth Amendment and its South Dakota counterpart, Article VI, Section 23, to the forfeiture of a vehicle. Our only analogous case on this issue is Krahwinkel, which addressed a gross disproportionality claim on a civil penalty for an overweight truck violation. 2002 SD 160, ¶ 38, 656 N.W.2d at 464-65. In that case, we recognized:

The Eighth Amendment provides that `excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.' This guarantee protects against fines that are grossly disproportionate to the offense. Austin v. United States, 509 U.S. 602, 113 S.Ct. 2801, 125 L.Ed.2d 488 (1993). The constitutional inquiry regarding excessive fines is proportionality: the

Page 650

amount of the fine must bear some relationship to the gravity of the offense that it is designed to punish. Id. at 622-23, 113 S.Ct. at 2812, 125 L.Ed.2d at 488; U.S. v. Ursery, 518 U.S. 267, 283, 116 S.Ct. 2135, 2145, 135 L.Ed.2d 549 (1996). Furthermore, the Eighth Amendment proscription against excessive fines applies to fines imposed by the government in civil actions. Austin, 509 U.S. at 610, 113 S.Ct. at 2806, 125 L.Ed.2d at 488.

Id. In Austin, a case involving forfeiture based on a violation of South Dakota's drug...

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5 practice notes
  • State v. One 1969 Blue Pontiac Firebird, No. 24272.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • June 27, 2007
    ...are based on the federal forfeiture statutes. 737 N.W.2d 275 State v. One 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee and $497 in American Currency, 2006 SD 29, ¶ 5, 712 N.W.2d 646, [¶ 13.] In One 1976 Mercedes Benz 280S, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held the Seventh Amend......
  • State v. Black 1999 Lexus ES300, No. 102,286.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 7, 2011
    ...*2 (Ohio App.2000) (unpublished opinion). One court has used the vehicle's retail value. State v. One 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, 712 N.W.2d 646, 648-52 (S.D.2006). But most haven't specified which value is proper and have just discussed the vehicle's value in general. See, e.g., Alexa......
  • State v. Webb, No. 26983.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • November 5, 2014
    ...right is an issue of law to be reviewed under the de novo standard. State v. One 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2006 S.D. 29, ¶ 3, 712 N.W.2d 646, 649 (citing State v. Krahwinkel, 2002 S.D. 160, ¶ 13, 656 N.W.2d 451, 458 ). Under this standard, “no deference is given to the circuit court'......
  • State ex rel. Schmidt v. Heffington, 111,448.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • March 13, 2015
    ...Inn, Inc. v. City of Chicago, ––– F.Supp.3d ––––, 2014 WL 5803133, at *2 (N.D.Ill.2014) ; State v. One 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, 712 N .W.2d 646, 649–50 (S.D.2006). Even if we are mistaken, Heffington has also made a generic argument under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Ame......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • State v. One 1969 Blue Pontiac Firebird, No. 24272.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • June 27, 2007
    ...are based on the federal forfeiture statutes. 737 N.W.2d 275 State v. One 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee and $497 in American Currency, 2006 SD 29, ¶ 5, 712 N.W.2d 646, [¶ 13.] In One 1976 Mercedes Benz 280S, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held the Seventh Amend......
  • State v. Black 1999 Lexus ES300, No. 102,286.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 7, 2011
    ...*2 (Ohio App.2000) (unpublished opinion). One court has used the vehicle's retail value. State v. One 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, 712 N.W.2d 646, 648-52 (S.D.2006). But most haven't specified which value is proper and have just discussed the vehicle's value in general. See, e.g., Alexa......
  • State v. Webb, No. 26983.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • November 5, 2014
    ...right is an issue of law to be reviewed under the de novo standard. State v. One 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2006 S.D. 29, ¶ 3, 712 N.W.2d 646, 649 (citing State v. Krahwinkel, 2002 S.D. 160, ¶ 13, 656 N.W.2d 451, 458 ). Under this standard, “no deference is given to the circuit court'......
  • State ex rel. Schmidt v. Heffington, 111,448.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • March 13, 2015
    ...Inn, Inc. v. City of Chicago, ––– F.Supp.3d ––––, 2014 WL 5803133, at *2 (N.D.Ill.2014) ; State v. One 1995 Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee, 712 N .W.2d 646, 649–50 (S.D.2006). Even if we are mistaken, Heffington has also made a generic argument under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Ame......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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