State v. Timbs, 27A04–1511–MI–1976.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana
Citation62 N.E.3d 472
Docket NumberNo. 27A04–1511–MI–1976.,27A04–1511–MI–1976.
Parties STATE of Indiana, Appellant–Plaintiff, v. Tyson TIMBS and a 2012 Land Rover LR2, Appellees–Defendants.
Decision Date20 October 2016

62 N.E.3d 472

STATE of Indiana, Appellant–Plaintiff,
Tyson TIMBS and a 2012 Land Rover LR2, Appellees–Defendants.

No. 27A04–1511–MI–1976.

Court of Appeals of Indiana.

Oct. 20, 2016.

62 N.E.3d 473

Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Aaron T. Craft, Justin F. Roebel, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellant.

David W. Stone IV, Stone Law Office & Legal Research, Anderson, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.


1] The State of Indiana filed a complaint for forfeiture in Grant Superior Court seeking to obtain a 2012 Land Rover LR2 owned by Tyson Timbs (“Timbs”) The trial court ruled in favor of Timbs, and the State appeals, presenting one issue, which we restate as whether the trial court erred in concluding that forfeiture of Timbs's vehicle would constitute a constitutionally excessive fine.

[2] We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

[3] In January 2013, Timbs purchased a Land Rover LR2 (“Land Rover”) for the sum of $42,058.30 from a dealer in Indianapolis. Timbs paid for the Land Rover with life insurance policy proceeds that he received following the death of his father. Thereafter, Timbs began to use this vehicle to drive from Marion, Indiana to Richmond, Indiana for the purposes of purchasing heroin. Timbs also used the Land Rover to transport the heroin back to Richmond.

[4] In May 2013, a confidential informant (“CI”) told a member of the Joint Effort Against Narcotics (“JEAN”) team1 that he could purchase heroin from Timbs. The police then set up a controlled buy, and on May 6, 2013, an undercover detective and the CI met Timbs at an apartment.2 The detective gave the CI the purchase money, and the CI went inside the apartment with Timbs and returned with two grams of heroin that he had purchased for the previously agreed-to price of $275.

[5] The police set up another controlled buy on May 22, 2013, to take place at a local gas station. This time, the undercover

[62 N.E.3d 474

detective purchased two grams of heroin from Timbs for a price of $260. After this transaction, the detective spoke with Timbs about arranging yet another purchase of heroin. However, on the day this controlled buy was set to take place, the police instead apprehended Timbs during a traffic stop.

6] On June 5, 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. On August 5, 2013, the State filed a complaint for forfeiture, seeking to obtain Timbs's Land Rover.

[7] On April 12, 2015, Timbs entered into a plea agreement with the State whereby he agreed to plead guilty to one count of Class B felony dealing in a controlled substance and Class D felony theft in exchange for the State dismissing the remaining charges. The following day, the trial court accepted the plea and sentenced Timbs pursuant to the agreement to six years, with one year executed in community corrections and five years suspended to probation. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Timbs also agreed to reimburse the JEAN team $385 for the cost of the investigation and pay a drug abuse, prosecution, and interdiction fee of $200; court costs of $168; a bond fee of $50; and a $400 certified court program fee after undergoing a drug and alcohol assessment with the probation department. The complaint for forfeiture remained pending.

[8] On July 15, 2015, the trial court held a hearing on the forfeiture complaint. At the hearing, Timbs argued that forfeiture of his Land Rover, which he claimed was worth over $40,000, constituted an excessive fine, given that he had only dealt drugs twice, that he was only convicted for one count of dealing, and that the maximum statutory fine for his crime was $10,000. The trial court took the matter under advisement and, on August 28, 2015, entered an order in favor of Timbs, which provided in relevant part:

7. The State now seeks a judgment against the Defendant for forfeiture of the Land Rover; a vehicle that just five (5) months before it was seized had a fair market value of almost four (4) times the maximum monetary fine of $10,000.

8. The Court finds that the judgment of forfeiture sought by the State violates the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The amount of the forfeiture sought is excessive and is grossly disproportional to the gravity of the Defendant's offense.

9. While the negative impact on our society of trafficking in illegal drugs is substantial, a forfeiture of approximately four (4) times the maximum monetary fine is disproportional to the Defendant's illegal conduct.

Judgment is entered in favor of the Defendant and against the State. The Land Rover LR2, at issue, is ordered released to the Defendant immediately.

Appellant's App. pp. 15–16. The State filed a motion to correct error on September 14, 2015, claiming for the first time that the trial court should have ordered a sale of the Land Rover from which a non-excessive fine could be deducted.3 The trial court held a hearing on the State's motion to correct error on October 14, 2015, and entered an order denying the State's motion on October 21, 2015. The State now appeals.

[62 N.E.3d 475

Standard of Review

[9] At trial, the State bore the burden of establishing the requirements of forfeiture. See Ind.Code § 34–24–1–4(a). Thus, the State is appealing from a negative judgment. See Merrillville 2548, Inc. v. BMO Harris Bank N.A., 39 N.E.3d 382, 390–91 (Ind.Ct.App.2015), reh'g denied, trans. denied. On appeal, we will not reverse a negative judgment unless it is contrary to law. Id. Here, the State argues that the trial court erred in determining that the forfeiture of the Land Rover constituted an excessive fine. This court has held that forfeitures are subject to the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. $ 100 and a Black Cadillac v. State, 822 N.E.2d 1001, 1011 (Ind.Ct.App.2005), trans. denied (citing Austin v. United States, 509 U.S. 602, 609–10, 113 S.Ct. 2801, 125 L.Ed.2d 488 (1993) ).4 We review the trial court's conclusion regarding the excessiveness of a fine de novo. United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U.S. 321, 336, 118 S.Ct. 2028, 141 L.Ed.2d 314 (1998).

Discussion and Decision

In rem forfeiture is an ancient concept under which courts obtained jurisdiction over property when it was virtually impossible to seek justice against property owners guilty of violating maritime law because they were overseas. Civil forfeiture traces to ancient Roman and medieval English law; both made objects used to violate the law subject to forfeiture to the sovereign. Civil forfeiture is no longer tethered to difficulties in obtaining personal jurisdiction over an individual. It now serves as one of the most potent weapons in the judicial armamentarium[.] Civil forfeiture is a leading method for imposing economic sanctions against narcotics traffickers.

Today, all states have statutory provisions for some form of asset forfeiture, and there are more than four hundred federal forfeiture statutes relating to various federal crimes. An important feature of many of these statutes is characterization of the process as civil forfeiture under which (by contrast to criminal forfeiture) a property owner need not be found guilty of a crime—or even charged—to lose permanently their cash, car, home or

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5 cases
  • State v. Timbs, Supreme Court Case No. 27S04-1702-MI-70
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 28 Octubre 2019
    ...would violate the Eighth Amendment's Excessive Fines Clause.The State appealed, and our Court of Appeals affirmed. State v. Timbs , 62 N.E.3d 472, 473, 477 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016). We granted the State's petition to transfer and reversed. State v. Timbs , 84 N.E.3d 1179, 1180–81, 1185 (Ind. 20......
  • State v. Timbs
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 2 Noviembre 2017
    ...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.Standard of Review Before addressing whe......
  • State v. Timbs
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 10 Junio 2021
    ...and so would violate the Eighth Amendment's Excessive Fines Clause. In a split opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed. State v. Timbs , 62 N.E.3d 472, 473 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016).This Court granted the State's transfer petition and reversed, holding the Excessive Fines Clause had yet to be inc......
  • State v. Martin
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Hawai'i
    • 10 Marzo 2020
    ...amount constituted an excessive fine under the Eighth Amendment in the same way that the defendant in Timbs did. See State v. Timbs, 62 N.E.3d 472, 474 (Ind. App. 2016) ("[a]t the hearing, Timbs argued that forfeiture of his Land Rover ... constituted an excessive fine"), vacated, 84 N.E.3d......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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