The Indiana Supreme Court has reversed and remanded a lower court ruling that involved a civil forfeiture case that went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Marion resident,  Tyson Timbs had his $40,000 Land Rover seized after being arrested for selling heroin to an undercover officer. 

The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause — which Timbs had used to challenge the forfeiture of his vehicle — applies to the states.  But the Supreme Court didn’t rule on how the Excessive Fines Clause should apply to civil in rem forfeitures.   That’s when property is seized by the government and no criminal charges are necessary.

In its opinion released today, the Indiana Supreme Court  ruled the vehicle was instrumental in the underlying crime but left it to the lower court to decide whether the harshness of the punishment was “grossly disproportional to the gravity of the underlying offenses and the owner’s culpability for the property’s misuse.”