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
12/5/2022

§ 3.2-5416. Authority of Commissioner.

The Commissioner shall have power:

1. To gather and compile information concerning and, to investigate the organization, business, conduct, practices, and management of any person engaged in intrastate commerce, and the relation thereof to other persons; and

2. To require, by general or special orders, persons engaged in intrastate commerce, or any class of them, or any of them, to file with the Commissioner in such form as the Commissioner may prescribe, annual or special, or both annual and special, reports or answers in writing to specific questions furnishing the Commissioner such information as he may require as to the organization, business, conduct, practices, management, and relation to other persons, of the person filing such reports or answers in writing. Such reports and answers shall be made under oath, or otherwise, as the Commissioner may prescribe, and shall be filed with the Commissioner within such reasonable period as the Commissioner may prescribe, unless additional time be granted in any case by the Commissioner.

a. For the purpose of this chapter the Commissioner shall at all reasonable times have access to, for the purpose of examination, and the right to copy any documentary evidence of any person being investigated or proceeded against, and may require by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of all documentary evidence of any person relating to any matter under investigation. The Commissioner may sign subpoenas and may administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses, and receive evidence.

b. Such attendance of witnesses, and the production of such documentary evidence, may be required at any designated place of hearing. In case of disobedience to a subpoena, the Commissioner may invoke the aid of an appropriate circuit court to require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documentary evidence.

c. Any circuit court within the jurisdiction where such inquiry is carried on may, in case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any person, issue an order requiring such person to appear before the Commissioner or to produce documentary evidence if so ordered, or to give evidence touching the matter in question; and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by such court as a contempt thereof.

d. The Commissioner may order testimony to be taken by deposition in any proceeding or investigation pending under this chapter at any stage of such proceeding or investigation. Such depositions may be taken before any person designated by the Commissioner and having the power to administer oaths. Such testimony shall be reduced to writing by the person taking the deposition, or under his direction and shall then be subscribed by the deponent. Any person may be compelled to appear and depose and to produce documentary evidence before the Commissioner as hereinbefore provided.

e. Witnesses summoned before the Commissioner shall be paid the same fees and mileage that are paid witnesses in the courts of the Commonwealth, and witnesses whose depositions are taken and the persons taking the same shall severally be entitled to the same fees as are paid for the like services in such courts.

f. No person shall be excused from attending and testifying or from producing books, papers, schedules of charges, contracts, agreements, or other documentary evidence before the Commissioner or in obedience to the subpoena of the Commissioner, whether such subpoena be signed or issued by him or his delegate, or in any cause or proceeding, criminal or otherwise, based upon or growing out of any alleged violation of this chapter, or of any amendments thereto, on the ground or for the reason that the testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of him or it may tend to incriminate him or it or subject him or it to a penalty or forfeiture; but no individual shall be prosecuted or subjected to a penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any transaction, matter, or thing concerning which he is compelled, after having claimed his privilege against self-incrimination, to testify or produce evidence, documentary or otherwise, except that any individual so testifying shall not be exempt from prosecution and punishment for perjury committed in so testifying.

g. Any person that shall refuse to attend and testify or to answer any lawful inquiry, or to produce documentary evidence, if in his or its power to do so, in obedience to the subpoena of the Commissioner is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

h. Any person that shall willfully make, or cause to be made, any false entry or statement of fact in any report required to be made under this chapter, or that shall willfully make, or cause to be made, any false entry in any account, record, or memorandum kept by any person subject to this chapter or that shall willfully neglect or fail to make or to cause to be made, full, true, and correct entries in such accounts, records, or memoranda, of all facts and transactions appertaining to the business of such person or that shall willfully remove out of the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, or willfully mutilate, alter or by any other means falsify any documentary evidence of any person subject to this chapter or that shall willfully refuse to submit to the Commissioner, for the purpose of inspection and taking copies, any documentary evidence of any person subject to this chapter in his possession or within his control, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

i. If any person required by this chapter to file any annual or special report shall fail so to do within the time fixed by the Commissioner for filing the same, and such failure shall continue for 30 days after notice of such default, such person shall forfeit to the Commonwealth the sum of $100 for each and every day of the continuance of such failure, which forfeiture shall be payable into the treasury of the Commonwealth, and shall be recoverable in a civil suit in the name of the Commonwealth brought in the city or county where the person has his principal office or in any city or county where he shall do business. It shall be the duty of the Attorney General to prosecute for the recovery of such forfeitures. The costs and expenses of such prosecution shall be paid out of the appropriation for the expenses of the Department.

j. Any officer or employee of the Commonwealth who shall make public any information obtained by the Commissioner, without his authority, unless directed by a court, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.32; 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.