A $40,000 Land Rover seized by the state of Indiana in connection with a drug crime has been returned to its owner, Tyson Timbs, pending final determination by judicial authorities as to the appropriateness of the seizure of the vehicle by law enforcement under civil asset forfeiture. This long legal battle has made it to the United States Supreme Court and twice to the Indiana Supreme Court. Mr. Timbs is represented by counsel from the Institute for Justice, which is a law firm that works on prominent public interest cases.
In April, I reported on the case of Tyson Timbs. Back then, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the 2013 seizure of his car using the process known as civil asset forfeiture. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear his case and determine whether the vehicle should be returned to him.
Tyson had been living in Ohio for years, struggling with addiction. After a work injury, he became addicted to opioids. Later, he turned to heroin. Then his Aunt Wendy fell ill. Tyson moved to Marion, Indiana to look after her.
A case of civil asset forfeiture involving a Hoosier’s seized Land Rover may end up on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket. If they agree to hear the case, it could transform the approach of law enforcement to civil asset forfeiture across the nation.
Civil asset forfeiture is the process where law enforcement can seize property suspected of being involved in a crime. It is legal in most states, and few states require a criminal conviction for the property to be seized. Proceeds from the profits of civil asset forfeiture are often used to fund law enforcement, leading to accusations of policing for profit. Continue reading