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
11/29/2022

Article 3. Enforcement and Penalties.

§ 3.2-5410. Prohibitions of bribery or gifts to state employees; assaults or interference with such employees.

A. Any person that shall give, pay, or offer, directly or indirectly, to any officer or employee of the Commonwealth authorized to perform any of the duties prescribed by this chapter or by the regulations of the Board, any money or other thing of value, with intent to influence said officer or employee in the discharge of any such duty, is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Any officer or employee of the Commonwealth authorized to perform any of the duties prescribed by this article who shall accept any money, gift, or other thing of value from any person, given with intent to influence his official action, or who shall receive or accept from any person engaged in intrastate commerce any gift, money, or other thing of value given with any purpose or intent whatsoever, is guilty of a Class 6 felony and shall, upon conviction, be summarily discharged from office.

B. Any person that forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person engaged in or on account of the performance of his official duties under this chapter with the intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the performance of such duties is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.25; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5411. Limitation of inspection to plants preparing products for human food.

Inspection shall not be provided under this chapter at any establishment for the slaughter of livestock or poultry or the preparation of any livestock products or poultry products that are not intended for use as human food, but such articles shall, prior to their offer for sale or transportation in intrastate commerce, unless naturally inedible by humans, be denatured or otherwise identified as prescribed by regulations of the Board to deter their use for human food.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.26; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5412. Inspection of products placed in container; right of access to plants at any time.

A. No inspection of products placed in any container at any official establishment shall be deemed to be complete until the products are sealed or enclosed therein under the supervision of an inspector.

B. For purpose of any inspection of products required by this chapter, inspectors authorized by the Commissioner shall have access at all times, by day or night, to every part of every establishment required to have inspection under this chapter, whether the establishment is operated or not.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.27; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5413. Administrative detention of violative animals and products.

Whenever any livestock product or poultry product exempted from the definition of a livestock product and from the definition of a poultry product, or any dead, dying, disabled, or diseased livestock or poultry, is found by the Commissioner upon any premises where it is held for purposes of, or during or after distribution in, intrastate commerce or is otherwise subject to this chapter, and there is reason to believe that any such article is adulterated or misbranded and is capable of use as human food, or that it has not been inspected, in violation of the provisions of this chapter or of the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act or the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or that such article or animal has been or is intended to be distributed in violation of any such provisions, it may be detained for a period not to exceed 20 days, pending action under § 3.2-5414 or notification of any federal authorities having jurisdiction over such article or animal, and shall not be moved by any person from the place where it is located when so detained, until released. All official marks may be required to be removed from such article or animal before it is released unless it appears to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the article or animal is eligible to retain such marks.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.28; 2008, c. 860.

§ 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.

§ 3.2-5415. General criminal penalties; warning letter.

A. Any person that violates any provisions of this chapter for which no other criminal penalty is provided is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If such violation involves intent to defraud, or any distribution or attempted distribution of an article that is adulterated (except as defined in subdivision 11 of § 3.2-5401) knowing the article to be adulterated, such person is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

B. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as requiring the Commissioner to report for prosecution or for the institution of condemnation or injunction proceedings, minor violations of this chapter whenever he believes that the public interest will be adequately served by a suitable written notice of warning.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.31; 2008, c. 860.

§ 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.

§ 3.2-5417. Power of injunction.

The Commissioner is authorized to apply to any appropriate court for an injunction and such court may grant a temporary or permanent injunction restraining a person from violating or continuing the violation of any provision of this chapter, when the court determines that the testimony and evidence presented warrants such action, without reference to adequacy of any remedy existing at law.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.33; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-5418. Limitation on applicability of chapter to matters regulated under federal acts.

The requirements of this chapter shall apply to persons, establishments, animals, and articles regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act only to the extent provided for in said federal acts.

1970, c. 290, § 3.1-884.34; 2008, c. 860.