Contraband, undeclared goods, merchandise, and commodities or falsely declared goods, merchandise and commodities are subject to seizure and forfeiture in accordance with the following process:
(a) Seizure notice: The importer or exporter is to be provided with a “Notice of Seizure” listing the items seized, the law(s) violated, the violator’s options and the customs contact location and telephone number and advising that the goods will be forfeited. Customs will also send identical seizure notices to all other known persons with a valid interest in the property, who have the same or similar rights as the violator. A copy shall be directed to the Attorney General and, in the event of alleged criminal violations, to the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.
(b) Opportunity for Hearing: Should the individual whose goods have been seized desire to appeal or contest the seizure, he may do so by filing a complaint in the High Court within thirty (30) days of receipt of the Seizure Notice.
(c) Forfeiture: If no complaint is filed in accordance with (b) above, the goods will be deemed forfeited and transferred to the government. In a contested case, upon the entry of a final, non-appealable order in which the government prevails, the goods will be deemed forfeited and transferred to the government. Upon forfeiture, the government may dispose of the goods as it may see fit or in accordance with any court order. Upon the entry of a final, non-appealable order in which the individual prevails, the seized goods will be returned to the individual or otherwise dealt with as the court may direct.
(d) Expedited processing: The chief customs officer may promulgate rules for expedited processing of the above procedures if the items seized are subject to spoilage or stale dating. These rules shall specify time limitations for filing of appeals and legal petitions so that the goods may be subject to forfeiture before they are subject to spoilage or stale dating. The chief customs officer shall provide due diligence in storage of such goods to prevent premature spoilage or stale dating, and any such costs incurred in such storage shall be recovered from the violator/claimant before goods are released.History: 2008, PL 30-36.