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prohibits the government from imposing excessive fines upon the citizenry. It states, “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”. Recent cases have addressed this issue with respects to in rem forfeitures, and have argued that the excessive fines may improperly applied in in rem forfeitures. In 1993 a defendant was convicted and pled guilty to one count of South Dakota’s drug laws. The defendant obtained two grams of cocaine from his mobile homes and sold it in a nearby body shop. The government sought in rem civil forfeiture of his mobile home. In this case the Supreme Court noted that the Eighth Amendment was not limited to only criminal cases but also to civil forfeiture. This sets up the idea that the forfeiture amount should be proportionate to the offense to avoid an Eighth Amendment violation. The property “must be an instrumentality of the crime and the value of the property must be proportional to the culpability of the owner.” This was the ruling when the government at- tempted to seize $357,144 in US Currency from a defendant who attempted to leave the country with that amount without report- ing, as required by federal law. The Court ultimately held that the government’s forfeiture of the entire $357.144 was excessive and grossly disproportionate to the offense. Both these cases have established that the dollar amount of the seized property can be legally challenged under Eighth Amendment guidelines. All eyes will be watching a recent case the Court just granted certiorari, Timbs v Indiana. In this case, Tyson Timbs used his Land Rover to transport drugs over a four-month period. Timbs pled guilty and was sentenced to six years imprisonment. The State of Indiana sought forfeiture of his Land Rover worth $42,058.30. The state’s maximum criminal fine for this offense was $10,000. Timbs’ legal argument is that the government’s forfeiture claim is four times the criminal fine and therefore a violation of the “Excessive Fines Clause” of the Eighth Amendment. While some states have already amended forfeiture laws to address proportionality of the forfeited asset, the ruling in the Timbs case may force all states to adopt a proportionality clause in their forfeiture statutes. substantially diminished under the Obama-Holder period. Fed- eral adoptions often provided local law enforcement with a legal avenue to circumvent their own state forfeiture process, allowing greater and less restrictive returns from the seizure. Especially since federal civil forfeiture still require only the “preponder- ance” standard for evidentiary proof. The Obama-Holder policy cut out the local adoptions where there was no joint federal law enforcement collaboration, and restricted the type of equipment local departments can buy with the federal forfeiture money. While everything looked pretty bleak, the Trump admin- istration reversed most of the Obama-Holder restrictions on federal adoptions. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ resumed payments from the Equitable Sharing Program. Session’s plan does require some training and improved record keeping for the local departments to qualify for adoptions but it appears to return the policy to pre-Obama years. While these revisions will surely be welcomed by local law enforcement, this EQUITABLE SHARING: The practice of federal adoptions of local drug cases was

policy has been seen as a contradiction to the recent reforms enacted by the states. Louis Rulli at the University Pennsylvania Law School states of Sessions’ directive “is going in the opposite direction of where the states are going in trying to reform civil asset forfeiture. Its’ an attack on federalism, taking over states’ choices on how best to combat crime and to protect the property of their citizens.” SUMMARY: Local law enforcement can certainly expect dramatic chang- es in civil forfeiture laws. Most of the changes in many state laws will certainly result in a decrease if not totally end any forfeiture revenue. There is no question the trend is to curb any initiatives to seize property through civil forfeiture. Cases that have shown forfeiture to be unreasonable have galvanized public opinion against the practice. Legislators have heard the complaints and responded with laws addressing burden of proof, disposition of assets to non-police programs, and proportionality of seizures to match the crime. It appears that equitable sharing through federal adoptions may be the only clear avenue that will benefit local and state law enforcement. This too may change under a new administration, stay tuned! About the Author: Albert L. DiGiacomo is a retired captain in the Philadelphia Police Department, and former Chief of Detectives in Chester County, PA. He is a graduate of the 186th session of the National Academy and is court-qualified as a subject matter expert in police management and practices. He is currently a tenured track faculty member in the Criminal Justice Department at West Chester University of Pennsylvania 1 Jeff Sessions Removes Restrictions on Controversial Police Seizures, Jon Schuppe, NBC News 2 SCOTUS Blog, November 2018 Pending List- Timbs v. Indiana 3 Ibid 4 Institute for Justice, Civil Forfeiture Reforms on the State Level, 2018 5 Sourovelis v. City of Phila., No, 14-4687 6 Commonwealth v. 1997 Chevrolet and real property as 416 S. 62nd St. Philadelphia, PA. 160 A 3d 153 (PA 2017) 7 CityLab, Brentin Mock 8 Austin v. United States, 509 US 602, 113 S Ct. 2801, 125 L. Ed 488 (1993) 9 United States v. Bajakajian, 524 US 321, 118 S.Ct. 2018, 141 L Ed 2nd 314 (1998) 10 IACP, Legislative and Media Affairs, Sarah Guy 11 Ibid


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