Indiana Claims It Can Forfeit Cars For Speeding, Minor Drug Crimes (1 Viewer)

imaitguy

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HeartDoctor

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Text of the fifth amendment of the constitution (italics mine):

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
 

PointerCone

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Indiana's Solicitor General is making a very tenuous argument on this one. The problem is, the facts in the case indicate that there was NOT speeding involved, BUT simply a nice Land Rover with some drugs. Its the "drugs" that differentiate this issue from a speeder, as it is "thought" that the sale and delivery of drugs could not occur but for the use of the vehicle. It effectively tied the vehicle to the drug dsitribution. We're not talking that here where you get a speeder (typically a civil infraction) and then they "try" to confiscate your vehicle. For him to argue that a speeder COULD have a vehicle impounded and then forfeited is quite silly in light of prior Constitutional Rulings about excessive fines. If we change the facts and the guy is NOT only speeding, BUT he has a pound of pot in the truck and $100 K cash, then the facts are quite different and he's not being tagged for the speeding, BUT for the distribution of drugs. IN that case, police departments often do use civil forfeiture laws to take both teh vehicle and the cash. However, the smart dealer often rents or leases his distribution vehicle, so technically, he's not the owner.

Note that these are what we call "in rem" (against the property thing, or item) forfeitures versus an in personam action (against the person).
 
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HeartDoctor

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I’d love to see the seventh amendment found to apply to traffic fines (it should) increasing the government’s cost of this public abuse and their risk of not prevailing thus discouraging this scam.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
 

Deacon

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...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Bold mine. You can be deprived of even your very life (death penalty) by due process.

The problem is, the facts in the case indicate that there was NOT speeding involved, BUT simply a nice Land Rover with some drugs. Its the "drugs" that differentiate this issue from a speeder, as it is "thought" that the sale and delivery of drugs could not occur but for the use of the vehicle. It effectively tied the vehicle to the drug dsitribution.
The fun part not really explored in that particular article is that the vehicle was not known to be involved in the transport or sale of the drugs. A private company saw an opportunity, sued on behalf of the state to try to tie it to the case after the fact so they could take a cut of the profits, which is its own confounding and outrageous action. He was not in the vehicle when busted, nor were there any drugs in the vehicle, nor was there any evidence the vehicle had ever been used during the commission of any illegal acts. But civil forfeiture has such a low bar to clear that they simply argued that maybe he did or intended to use it, and that was enough. It’s horrific and makes me legitimately angry. I do not support this kind of thing in any way.
 

HeartDoctor

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Bold mine. You can be deprived of even your very life (death penalty) by due process.


The fun part not really explored in that particular article is that the vehicle was not known to be involved in the transport or sale of the drugs. A private company saw an opportunity, sued on behalf of the state to try to tie it to the case after the fact so they could take a cut of the profits, which is its own confounding and outrageous action. He was not in the vehicle when busted, nor were there any drugs in the vehicle, nor was there any evidence the vehicle had ever been used during the commission of any illegal acts. But civil forfeiture has such a low bar to clear that they simply argued that maybe he did or intended to use it, and that was enough. It’s horrific and makes me legitimately angry. I do not support this kind of thing in any way.
Due process of law would include a trial by jury since the value is over $20, which in these cases is not provided. The state simply confiscates, uses or sells, and never gives the owner his day in court.
 

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Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Extremely rudimentary comment here (and I'm not prepared to defend it :)); I doubt that could ever apply to a traffic case in which the accuser is a government employee. They don't deal in common law. Their domain is Admiralty Law.
 

PointerCone

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Text of the fifth amendment of the constitution (italics mine):

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
We're talking about the 8th Amendment here, NOT the 5th.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

--- DOUBLEPOST MERGED ---

Extremely rudimentary comment here (and I'm not prepared to defend it :)); I doubt that could ever apply to a traffic case in which the accuser is a government employee. They don't deal in common law. Their domain is Admiralty Law.
The 7th doesnt apply as well....
 

imaitguy

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In part, this argument is linked with incorporation of the USA Constitution by the States. While the amendments exist at a Federal Level, not all States agree to them.
(See this article here: www.law.cornell.edu: Incorporation Doctrine and Incorporation of the Bill of Rights - Wikipedia) . The VIII Amendment protecting you from Excessive Fines, is only at the Federal level, and has not been applied to States.

Interesting. I never knew this piece of history/rights.
 
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PointerCone

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Bold mine. You can be deprived of even your very life (death penalty) by due process.


The fun part not really explored in that particular article is that the vehicle was not known to be involved in the transport or sale of the drugs. A private company saw an opportunity, sued on behalf of the state to try to tie it to the case after the fact so they could take a cut of the profits, which is its own confounding and outrageous action. He was not in the vehicle when busted, nor were there any drugs in the vehicle, nor was there any evidence the vehicle had ever been used during the commission of any illegal acts. But civil forfeiture has such a low bar to clear that they simply argued that maybe he did or intended to use it, and that was enough. It’s horrific and makes me legitimately angry. I do not support this kind of thing in any way.
Nor does any one else, BUT during the WOD (thanks Bush 41) ; War ON Drugs, many civil forfeiture laws were passed by states (in rem actions against property) that said if you violate X Law, we can take Y thing. This was the attempt to use the law to confiscate cash $$ and property such as cars, boats planes etc. used during the commission of certain felonies, mostly drug related. Think about the time of Reagan and forward and the associated drug czars using these laws to take high performance boats if they can show they were used or "could have been used" in the commission of the crime.

Lil HX here. I was front and center in this in Fl during the days when Miami Vice held true. Pot and Cocaine transportation were rampant in southeast and SW FL at the time and the focus was on taking the vehicles , be it planes, cars, trucks or boats that were used to transport these things. Typically done by US Customs (not to be confused with US KUSTOMS car modification company) . Remember, they were building $1 million plus boats at that time to "outrun" the man and were actually very successful since they have a very low, if any ,RCS. Planes, even at 25 feet above the waves could still be seen using boat or ground based radar systems. It was hard, but they could find them. Not so with fiberglass 40 foot boats that were about 4-6 feet tall at their highest point in the water. They mixed in with the waves. A Cigarette, Apache or Scarab could make the run from Bimini in approx 3/4 hour at speed (about 57 miles across ) and even when fully loaded. Sonny going to Cuba was a lil less realistic.
 

PointerCone

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Here's the thing too, the Supreme Courts of many states have ruled that the 8th Amendment does apply to these forfeiture cases. Some have not. BUT here, INDIANA was going for thierpound of flesh and is getting it:

" In 2013, Timbs was arrested after he sold a few grams of heroin (valued at under $400) to undercover officers. Timbs was sentenced to five years’ probation and one year of house arrest. But the state also wanted his car, and filed a motion to forfeit it."

Even if Timbs wins, and I believe he will in this case,
Indiana will ultimately be the winner because the amount of time to litigare these issues is years while his car sits in an impound lot subject to a hold (lis pendens) for this case. So, by the time a decision is rendered by SCOTUS against Indiana, they will have had the car for 6 years. Yep, no oil changes, no car washes, no nothing BUT sittng in a lot for 6 years (assuming they took it upon forfeiture proceedings and they typically do). The reaosn why they DID take it was the fact that he owned it free and clear (life insurance money) and apparently there was NO bank lien against the vehicle. Had there been a lien, it wouldnt not have been as tempting for IN to take the sport ute since they'd spend more $$ going after it than it was worth. This case will fundamentally change the rules of forfeiture should it go in the favor of Timbs.
 

imaitguy

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The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the ability of the federal government to seize property. On Wednesday (02/20/2019), the court ruled that the clause also applies to the states.
 

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Looks like Indiana has to give the Land Rover back, but what if they already sold it at auction? They should have to buy him a brand new one!
 

Deacon

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Realistically they probably have to give him the proceeds, possibly plus some small amount of interest? Not sure. But ideally they would be required to cough up at least replacement price.
 

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