Subdivision 1. Contraband defined.
The following are declared to be contraband and
therefore subject to civil and criminal penalties under this chapter:
(a) Cigarette packages which do not have stamps affixed to them as provided in this chapter,
including but not limited to (i) packages with illegible stamps and packages with stamps that are
not complete or whole even if the stamps are legible, and (ii) all devices for the vending of
cigarettes in which packages as defined in item (i) are found, including all contents contained
within the devices.
(b) A device for the vending of cigarettes and all packages of cigarettes, where the device
does not afford at least partial visibility of contents. Where any package exposed to view does
not carry the stamp required by this chapter, it shall be presumed that all packages contained
in the device are unstamped and contraband.
(c) A device for the vending of cigarettes to which the commissioner or authorized agents
have been denied access for the inspection of contents. In lieu of seizure, the commissioner or an
agent may seal the device to prevent its use until inspection of contents is permitted.
(d) A device for the vending of cigarettes which does not carry the name and address of the
owner, plainly marked and visible from the front of the machine.
(e) A device 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 more than 5,000 cigarettes which are contraband under
this subdivision. When cigarettes are being transported in the course of interstate commerce, or are
in movement from either a public warehouse to a distributor upon orders from a manufacturer or
distributor, or from one distributor to another, the cigarettes are not contraband, notwithstanding
the provisions of clause (a).
(f) A device 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 untaxed tobacco products intended for sale in
Minnesota other than those in the possession of a licensed distributor on or before the due date
for payment of the tax under section
297F.09, subdivision 2
(g) Cigarette packages or tobacco products obtained from an unlicensed seller.
(h) Cigarette packages offered for sale or held as inventory in violation of section
(i) Tobacco products on which the tax has not been paid by a licensed distributor.
(j) Any cigarette packages or tobacco products offered for sale or held as inventory for which
there is not an invoice from a licensed seller as required under section
297F.13, subdivision 4
(k) Cigarette packages which have been imported into the United States in violation of United
States Code, title 26, section 5754. All cigarettes held in violation of that section shall be presumed
to have entered the United States after December 31, 1999, in the absence of proof to the contrary.
Subd. 2. Seizure.
Cigarettes, tobacco products, or other property made contraband by
subdivision 1 may be seized by the commissioner or authorized agents or by any sheriff or other
police officer, with or without process, and are subject to forfeiture as provided in subdivision 3.
Subd. 3. Inventory; judicial determination; appeal; disposition of seized property.
Within ten days after the seizure of any alleged contraband, the person making the seizure shall
serve by certified mail an inventory of the property seized on the person from whom the seizure
was made, if known, and on any person known or believed to have any right, title, interest, or lien
in the property, at the last known address, and file a copy with the commissioner. The notice must
include an explanation of the right to demand a judicial forfeiture determination.
(b) Within 60 days after the date of service of the inventory, which is the date of mailing, the
person from whom the property was seized or any person claiming an interest in the property may
file a demand for a judicial determination of the question as to whether the property was lawfully
subject to seizure and forfeiture. The demand must be in the form of a civil complaint and must
be filed with the court administrator in the county in which the seizure occurred, together with
proof of service of a copy of the complaint on the commissioner of revenue, and the standard
filing fee for civil actions unless the petitioner has the right to sue in forma pauperis under section
. If the value of the seized property is $7,500 or less, the claimant may file an action in
conciliation court for recovery of the property. If the value of the seized property is less than $500,
the claimant does not have to pay the conciliation court filing fee.
(c) The complaint must be captioned in the name of the claimant as plaintiff and the
seized property as defendant, and must state with specificity the grounds on which the claimant
alleges the property was improperly seized and the plaintiff's interest in the property seized. No
responsive pleading is required of the commissioner, and no court fees may be charged for the
commissioner's appearance in the matter. The proceedings are governed by the Rules of Civil
Procedure. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, an action for the return of property seized
under this section may not be maintained by or on behalf of any person who has been served with
an inventory unless the person has complied with this subdivision. The court shall decide whether
the alleged contraband is contraband, as defined in subdivision 1. The court shall hear the action
without a jury and shall try and determine the issues of fact and law involved.
(d) When a judgment of forfeiture is entered, the commissioner may, unless the judgment
is stayed pending an appeal, either:
(1) deliver the forfeited cigarette packages or tobacco products to the commissioner of
human services for use by patients in state institutions;
(2) cause the property in clause (1) to be destroyed; or
(3) cause the forfeited property to be sold at public auction as provided by law.
The person 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
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. The
balance of the proceeds must be paid 75 percent to the Department of Revenue for deposit as
a supplement to its operating fund or similar fund for official use, and 25 percent to the county
attorney or other prosecuting agency that handled the court proceeding, if there is one, for
deposit as a supplement to its operating fund or similar fund for prosecutorial purposes. If there
is no prosecuting authority involved in the forfeiture, the 25 percent of the proceeds otherwise
designated for the prosecuting authority must be deposited into the general fund.
(e) If no demand for judicial determination is made, the property seized is considered
forfeited to the state by operation of law and may be disposed of by the commissioner as provided
in the case of a judgment of forfeiture.
Subd. 4.[Repealed, 1Sp2001 c 5 art 18 s 11
History: 1997 c 106 art 1 s 21; 2000 c 490 art 10 s 20,21; 2000 c 496 s 1; 1Sp2001 c 5
art 18 s 6-8