Anyone have a defendant assert that the seizure is in violation of the Excessive Fines Clause of the 8th Amendment as outlined in One Car v. State, 122 S.W. 3d 422, 427-28, which applies a "proportionality test"?
If so, how did the trial court apply it? Seems like a equity exercise.
The Eighth Amendment, which is applicable to the states under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, states: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." See U.S. Const. amend. VIII; Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660, 675 (1962). A forfeiture is a "fine" under the Eighth Amendment if it constitutes punishment for an offense. See United States v.
Bajakajian,524 U.S. 321, 327-28 (1998).
I have ran into this defense a few times. The first important thing to remember when countering this defense is whether the contraband is used in the commission of the offense or if it is proceeds from the offense. Proceed should not be subject to the same Eighth Amendment claim because ill gotten gains should always be divested under the rationale for civil forfeiture. When you are dealing with an asset like a vehicle being used to transport drugs I typically use the maximum fin for the offense as a safe line to not be excessive. If the judge disagreed or the asset is very valuable compared to the crime I would ask that the asset be sold and an amount that would not violate the Eighth Amendment in the judge's opinion be awarded to the State. I think every judge will apply their own version of the proportionality test based of the facts of the case.
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