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Protecting Your Assets With the Eighth Amendment

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects you from excessive fines. If you are convicted of a crime, you may face forfeiting assets to the state or the federal government. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment applies to asset forfeiture as well as court-ordered fines.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact the criminal defense attorneys at S.L. England, PLLC. We will build the strongest defense for you and fight to protect your assets from forfeiture.


The Supreme Court considered what constitutes excessive fines in United States v. Bajakajian. In this case, Hosep Bajakajian boarded an international flight with $357,144 on his person. Customs officers discovered the money during a routine check and he was charged with attempting to leave the United States with an unreported sum in excess of $10,000 cash.

The government sought forfeiture of the entire amount, claiming that the law called for the forfeiture of all property involved in the offense. The Supreme Court ruled that this constituted an excessive fine under the Eighth Amendment because it was not proportionate to the crime. In this case, the money was not associated with illegal activity and the government did not suffer a loss, so to forfeit the entire amount would be disproportionate to the severity of the offense.


The Supreme Court recently ruled that the excessive fines clause in the Eighth Amendment applies to states as well as the federal government. In Timbs v. Indiana, Tyson Timbs purchased a Land Rover worth $42,000 and then used the vehicle to make several interstate trips transporting heroin over the next five months. He plead guilty to one charge of felony dealing and one charge of conspiracy to commit theft.

The state sought forfeiture of Timb’s Land Rover. The trial court denied the forfeiture, stating that the maximum fine for Timb’s offense was $10,000 and forfeiting the Land Rover would be an excessive fine. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed this ruling, stating that the Supreme Court of the United States had not incorporated the Eighth Amendment against the states, so the State was entitled to the Land Rover.

The Supreme Court of the United States considered the case and concluded that the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause applies equally to states and the federal government, so forfeiting the Land Rover would be an excessive fine.


If you have been charged with a crime in Washington, D.C. or Alexandria, VA, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney from S.L. England, PLLC, to fight for you. You may be worried about forfeiting your assets to the state or the federal government as part of your arrest, and we will fight to ensure that your Eighth Amendment rights are protected.

The Supreme Court’s rulings are clear that any asset forfeiture must be proportionate to the severity of the crime, and the state or federal government cannot seize your assets without cause. Our attorneys understand the intricacies of Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, VA criminal law and can represent you in any level court. Call us today at 202-759-2333 or contact us online.

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