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
(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 subdivision 4.
Subd. 4. Inventory; judicial determination; appeal; disposition of seized property.
Within ten days after the seizure of alleged contraband, the person making the seizure shall serve
by certified mail an inventory of the property seized on the person from whom the property
was seized, 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 both the commissioners
of revenue and public safety. 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 judicial determination of 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 or public safety, 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 or vehicle 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 of revenue or public safety and no court fees
may be charged for either 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 hear the action without a jury and determine the issues of fact and law involved.
(d) 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, other than a vehicle, to be destroyed; or
(2) cause it to be sold at a 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 seizing authority 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 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
Subd. 5.[Repealed, 1Sp2001 c 5 art 18 s 11
History: 1997 c 179 art 1 s 20; 1Sp2001 c 5 art 18 s 9,10