Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 3.2. Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food
Chapter 54. Slaughterhouses, Meat, and Dressed Poultry

§ 3.2-5414. Seizure and condemnation provisions.

A. Any livestock product or poultry product or any dead, dying, disabled, or diseased livestock or poultry that is being transported in intrastate commerce, or is otherwise subject to this chapter, or is held for sale in the Commonwealth after such transportation, and that: (i) is or has been prepared, sold, transported, or otherwise distributed or offered or received for distribution in violation of this chapter; (ii) is capable of use as human food and is adulterated or misbranded; or (iii) in any other way is in violation of this chapter, shall be liable to be proceeded against and seized and condemned.

At any time prior to the expiration of the 20-day detention period provided by § 3.2-5413, the Commissioner shall notify the attorney for the Commonwealth for the city or county where such detention was made in writing of said detention. Upon receiving such written notification, the attorney for the Commonwealth shall forthwith file in the name of the Commonwealth an information against the detained property in the clerk's office of the circuit court of the county or city where detention was made. Upon the filing of such information, the clerk of court shall forthwith issue a warrant directing the sheriff to seize the detained property and see to its transportation to a suitable place of storage that, if necessary, may be outside of the county or city served by the sheriff. Should the attorney for the Commonwealth, for any reason, fail to file such information within five days after receipt of written notice of detention of articles or animals, the same may, at any time within 30 days thereafter be filed by the Attorney General and the proceedings thereon shall be the same as if filed by the attorney for the Commonwealth.

Such information shall allege the seizure, and set forth in general terms the grounds of forfeiture of the seized property, and shall petition that the same be condemned and sold and the proceeds disposed of according to law, and that all persons concerned or interested be cited to appear and show cause why such property should not be condemned and sold to enforce the forfeiture. After the filing of the information, the attorney for the Commonwealth shall apply to the judge of the court wherein the information was filed for a hearing on the matters contained in the information. The judge of the court shall move the matter to the head of the docket and such hearing shall be had as soon as practical to do so.

The owner of and all persons in any manner then indebted or liable for the purchase price of the article or animal, and any person having a lien thereon, if they be known to the attorney who files the information, shall be made parties defendant thereto, and shall be served with the notice hereinafter provided for, in the manner provided by law for serving a notice, at least ten days before the day therein specified for the hearing on the information, if they be residents of the Commonwealth; and if they be unknown or nonresidents, or cannot with reasonable diligence be found in the Commonwealth, they shall be deemed sufficiently served by publication of the notice once a week for two successive weeks in some newspaper published in such county or city, or if none be published therein, then in some newspaper having general circulation therein, and a notice shall be sent by registered mail of such seizure to the last known address of the owner of such article or animal. If any such person be served by publication, then no hearing shall be had prior to the expiration of 10 days from the date of the record publication of the notice.

Any person claiming to be the owner of such seized article or animal, or to hold a lien thereon, may appear at any time before final judgment of the trial court, and be made a party defendant to the information so filed, which appearance shall be in person or by answer, under oath, in which shall be clearly set forth the nature of such defendant's claim, whether as owner or as lienor, and if as owner, the right or title by which he claims to be such owner, and if lienor, the amount and character of his lien, and the evidence thereof; and in either case, such defendant shall set forth fully any reason or cause that he may have to show against the forfeiture of the article or animal.

If such article or animal is condemned, it shall, after entry of the decree, be disposed of by destruction or sale as the court may direct and the proceeds, if sold, less the court costs and fees, and storage and other proper expenses, shall be paid into the treasury of the Commonwealth, but the article or animal shall not be sold contrary to the provisions of this chapter, or the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; provided, that upon the execution and delivery of a good and sufficient bond conditioned that the article or animal shall not be sold or otherwise disposed of contrary to the provisions of this chapter, or the laws of the United States, the court may direct that such article or animal be delivered to a claimant thereof, who may have appeared in the proceedings, subject to such supervision by the Commissioner as is necessary to insure compliance with the applicable laws. When a decree of condemnation is entered against the article or animal and it is released under bond, or destroyed, court costs and fees, and storage and other proper expenses may as the court deems just, be awarded against the person, if any, intervening as claimant of the article or animal.

If a claimant shall deny for any reason that the article or animal to be condemned is subject to condemnation as provided by this section, and shall demand a trial by jury of the issue thus made, the court shall, under proper instructions, submit the same to a jury of five, to be selected and empanelled as prescribed by law, and if such jury shall find on the issue in favor of such claimant, or if the court, trying such issue without a jury, shall so find, the judgment of the court shall be to entirely relieve the property from forfeiture, and no costs shall be taxed against such claimant.

B. The provisions of this section shall in no way derogate from authority for condemnation or seizure conferred by other provisions of this chapter, or other laws.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.29; 2008, c. 860.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.