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297G.20 Contraband.

Subdivision 1. Contraband defined. The following are declared to be contraband and therefore subject to civil and criminal penalties and seizure under this chapter:

(1) All distilled spirits, wine, and fermented malt beverages possessed or held with intent to sell without payment of an excise tax.

(2) All distilled spirits, wine, and fermented malt beverages sold without payment of an excise tax.

(3) All distilled spirits, wine, and fermented malt beverages transported without payment of an excise tax.

(4) Devices including, but not limited to, motor vehicles, trailers, snowmobiles, airplanes, and boats used with the knowledge of the owner, or of a person operating with the consent of the owner, for the storage or transportation of distilled spirits, wine, and fermented malt beverages which are contraband under this subdivision.

Subd. 2. Exception. When distilled spirits, wine, and fermented malt beverages are being transported in the course of interstate commerce, or are in movement from either a public warehouse to a wholesaler upon orders from a manufacturer or wholesaler, or from one wholesaler to another, the distilled spirits, wine, and fermented malt beverages are not contraband, notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision 1.

Subd. 3. Seizure. Distilled spirits, wine, fermented malt beverages, or other property made contraband by subdivision 1 may be seized by the commissioner of revenue or public safety and their authorized agents or by any sheriff or other police officer, with or without process, and are subject to forfeiture as provided in subdivisions 4 and 5.

Subd. 4. Inventory; judicial determination; appeal; disposition of seized property. (a) Within ten days after the seizure of alleged contraband, the person making the seizure shall make available an inventory of the property seized to the person from whom the property was seized, if known, and file a copy with both the commissioners of revenue and public safety. Within ten days after the date of service of the inventory, the person from whom the property was seized or any person claiming an interest in the property may file with the seizing authority a demand for judicial determination of whether the property was lawfully subject to seizure and forfeiture. Within 60 days after the date of the filing of the demand, the seizing authority must bring an action in the district court of the county where seizure was made to determine the issue of forfeiture.

(b) The action must be brought in the name of the state and must be prosecuted by the county attorney or by the attorney general. The court shall hear the action without a jury and determine the issues of fact and law involved.

(c) If a judgment of forfeiture is entered, the seizing authority may, unless the judgment is stayed pending an appeal, either:

(1) cause the forfeited property to be destroyed; or

(2) cause it to be sold at a public auction as provided by law.

(d) If demand for judicial determination is made and no action is commenced by the seizing authority as provided in this subdivision, the property must be released by the seizing authority and delivered to the person entitled to it. If no demand is made, the property seized is considered forfeited to the seizing authority by operation of law and may be disposed of by the seizing authority as provided for a judgment of forfeiture. When the seizing authority is satisfied that a person from whom property is seized was acting in good faith and without intent to evade the tax imposed by this chapter, the seizing authority shall release the property seized without further legal proceedings.

Subd. 5. Disposal. (a) The property described in subdivision 1, clause (4), must be confiscated after conviction of the person from whom it was seized, upon compliance with the following procedure: the seizing authority shall file with the court a separate complaint against the property, describing it and charging its use in the specific violation, and specifying substantially the time and place of the unlawful use. A copy of the complaint must be served upon the defendant or person in charge of the seizure, if any.

(b) If the person arrested is acquitted, the court shall dismiss the complaint against the property and order it returned to the persons legally entitled to it. Upon conviction of the person arrested, the court shall issue an order directed to any person known or believed to have any right, title, or interest in, or lien upon, any of the property, and to persons unknown claiming any right, title, interest, or lien in it, describing the property and (1) stating that it was seized and that a complaint against it, charging the specified violation, has been filed with the court, (2) requiring the persons to file with the court administrator their answer to the complaint, setting forth any claim they may have to any right or title to, interest in, or lien upon the property, within 30 days after the service of the order, and (3) notifying them in substance that if they fail to file their answer within the time, the property will be ordered sold by the seizing authority.

(c) The court shall cause the order to be served upon any person known or believed to have any right, title, interest, or lien as in the case of a summons in a civil action, and upon unknown persons by publication, as provided for service of summons in a civil action. If an answer is filed within the time provided, the court shall fix a time for hearing, which must not be less than ten nor more than 30 days after the time for filing the answer expires. If no answer is filed within the time prescribed, upon affidavit by the court administrator, setting forth the fact, the court shall order the property sold by the seizing authority. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds of the sale of forfeited property, after payment of seizure, storage, forfeiture, and sale expenses, must be forwarded to the seizing authority for deposit as a supplement to its operating fund or similar fund for official use, and 25 percent must be forwarded to the county attorney or other prosecuting agency that handled the forfeiture for deposit as a supplement to its operating fund or similar fund for prosecutorial purposes.

(d) At the time fixed for hearing, unless continued for cause, the matter must be heard and determined by the court, without a jury as in other civil actions. If the court finds that the property, or any part of it, was used in the violation specified in the complaint, it shall order the unlawfully used property sold as provided by law, unless the owner shows to the satisfaction of the court that the owner had no notice or knowledge or reason to believe that the property was used or intended to be used in the violation. The officer making a sale, after deducting the expense of keeping the property, the fee for seizure, and the costs of the sale, shall pay all liens according to their priority, which are established at the hearing as being bona fide and as existing without the lienor having any notice or knowledge that the property was being used or was intended to be used for or in connection with the violation specified in the order of the court, and shall pay the balance of the proceeds to the seizing authority for official use and sharing in the manner provided in paragraph (a). A sale under this section frees the property from all liens on it. Appeal from the order of the district is available as in other civil cases.

(e) At any time after seizure of the articles specified in this subdivision, and before the hearing provided for, the property must be returned to the owner or person having a legal right to its possession, upon execution of a good and valid bond to the state, with corporate surety, in the sum of at least $100 and not more than double of the value of the property seized, to be approved by the court in which the case is triable, or a judge of it, conditioned to abide any order and the judgment of the court, and to pay the full value of the property at the time of the seizure. The seizing authority may dismiss the proceedings outlined in this subdivision when the seizing authority considers it in the public interest to do so.

HIST: 1997 c 179 art 1 s 20