Constitution Thursday – Excessive Fines & Civil Forfeiture
“nor excessive fines imposed…” – 8th Amendment
A professional musician travelling with $91,000 in cash he was going to use to buy a recording studio is stopped in Wyoming for a seat belt violation. The Police take the money, and claim that they have a right to it.
in Indiana, what happens when a young man sells four grams of heroin to an undercover cop? Obviously, he gets busted, does a year on house arrest and pays a fine. Then he decided to get his life back together and heads out to find a new job.
The cops weren’t done. They used Civil Forfeiture laws to seize his car, valued at $40,000. Don’t read too much into that value, there is a valid reason that he had the money to buy it in the first place.
He sued, and the lower State Court held that he should get his car back. After all, it was only 4 ounces of heroin. The Law enforcement agencies appealed it to the State Supreme Court.
The highest Court in Indiana, along with Mississippi, Michigan and Montana proclaimed that the 8th Amendments prohibition against excessive fines “does not apply” to it.
And so… we’re off and running to ask the Supreme Court one question: does the 8th Amendment prohibition against excessive fines apply to the States?