State Wants To Be Able To Take Your Car Away if You Go 5 Miles over Speed Limit


Indiana is working overtime to abuse civil asset forfeiture seemingly in an effort to pad its budget. Apparently, even the smallest of crimes — such as driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit — can cost the average resident a lot more than he or she expected or thought was possible.

Let’s go over the backstory first. In 2015, Tyson Timbs was charged after he sold illegal drugs to undercover Indiana cops. He was using the money he earned — as is all too common these days — to fuel an opioid addiction.

After his guilty plea, the state filed a lawsuit demanding that his $42,000 Land Rover SUV be confiscated.

The problem, however, is that Timbs’ crimes only carried a maximum fine of $10,000; the vehicle is obviously worth four times that amount.

The private law firm representing the state of Indiana argued to invoke civil asset forfeiture because Timbs drove around with heroin for a short time.

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Although I’m in no way, shape or form defending a convicted drug dealer, it’s more than concerning that the state thinks it’s entitled to more than the maximum fine amount in those situations. It’s essentially legalized theft.

However, despite the case between Timbs and Indiana making it to the United States Supreme Court last year — and the SCOTUS unanimously ruling with Timbs — the state of Indiana is still trying to argue that even the most petty instances of breaking the law can result in civil asset forfeiture.

According to Reason, that includes a situation involving a vehicle that was stopped for going five miles per hour over the speed limit, if you ask Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher.

“This is the position that we already staked out in the Supreme Court when I was asked by Justice [Stephen] Breyer whether a Bugatti can be forfeited for going over five miles over the speed limit,” Fisher said last week during oral arguments before the Indiana Supreme Court.

Do you agree that civil asset forfeiture is being abused?

“Historically, the answer to that question is yes, and we’re sticking with that position here.”

Imagine the types of scenarios that regular, law-abiding folks could find themselves in, given that line of reasoning? The possibilities are scary and endless.

Indiana is being represented by a man who believes a million-dollar car can be impounded and sold off if the driver were to violate a driving law that carries a fine of a few hundred bucks. How does that make any logical sense?

The comment comes as the Indiana court reconsiders the case of Timbs’ SUV and is working to decide “whether the state’s 2015 seizure of Timbs’ car after he was convicted of a drug felony violated his Eighth Amendment protections against excessive fines and fees,” according to Reason.

Regardless, this is what an out-of-control government looks like, which can happen even on a state level.

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Unfortunately, this scenario has already happened numerous times around the country.

According to The Washington Post, federal and state governments have obtained billions of dollars worth of seized assets because someone’s private property just so happened to have a tenuous connection to a crime.

But for Indiana, there’s a darker element to the shady scheme.

Slate reported that Indiana lets private attorneys in on the civil forfeiture process, allowing them to file claims against defendants. These lawyers make a lucrative living collecting “contingency fees” and some profits from the sale of seized assets.

How is that even remotely ethical?

The Supreme Court needs to stand strong on this issue. Hands down, this is an unconstitutional and unethical abuse of government power in an attempt to fill the state coffers and those of the lawyers who get involved.

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Ryan Ledendecker is a former writer for The Western Journal.
Ryan Ledendecker is a former writer for The Western Journal.
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