IN this Aug. 13, 2018, file photo, Tyson Timbs poses for a portrait at his aunt's home in Marion, Ind. Five years ago, Timbs had his $42,000 Land Rover taken by the government in a process known as "civil asset forfeiture," after he pled guilty to selling $260 of heroin. Lawyers for Timbs and the State of Indiana will argue whether Eighth Amendment protection from "excessive fines" applies to civil forfeitures at the state level, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 28, 2018. (Jenna Watson/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

Supreme Court weighs constitutional case on excessive fines

November 27, 2018 - 11:45 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking up the case of an Indiana man who says the Constitution should have barred local authorities from seizing his $40,000 Land Rover after his arrest for selling less than $400 in heroin to undercover officers.

The court is hearing arguments Wednesday in the case of Tyson Timbs, of Marion. A judge ruled that taking the car was disproportionate to the severity of the crime, which carries a maximum fine of $10,000.

But Indiana's top court said the justices have never ruled on whether the Eighth Amendment's ban on excessive fines — like much of the rest of the Bill of Rights — applies to states.

The case has drawn interest from liberal and conservative groups that oppose excessive civil penalties.

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