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210.12 Seizures; forfeiture proceedings

(1) The state, acting by and through the division, may seize, confiscate, and forfeit any cigarettes upon which taxes payable hereunder may be unpaid or which are otherwise held in violation of the requirements of this chapter, and also any vending machine or receptacle in which cigarettes upon which taxes have not been paid are held for sale, or any vending machine that does not have affixed thereto the identification sticker required by s. 210.07, or that does not display at all times at least one package of each brand of cigarettes located therein so the same is clearly visible and arranged in such a manner that the cigarette tax stamp affixed thereto is clearly visible. Such seizure may be made by the division, its duly authorized representative, any sheriff or deputy sheriff, or any police officer.

(2) All fixtures, equipment, and other materials and personal property on the premises of any dealer, retail dealer, or distributing agent who, with intent to defraud the state, fails to keep or make any record, return, report, or inventory required by this part; keeps or makes any false or fraudulent record, return, report, or inventory required by this part; refuses to pay any tax imposed by this part; or attempts in any manner to evade or defeat the requirements of this part shall be forfeited to the state as provided by the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

(3) All cigarettes seized, confiscated, and forfeited to the state under this part shall be destroyed.

(4) The procedure for seizure, the listing, appraisal, advertisement and sale of the property seized, the bond of any claimant, the court proceedings, if any, including the parties, personal service of citation, and other personal services, the services by publication, judicial sale, and all other proceedings for the confiscation and forfeiture of the property for the nonpayment of the taxes shall be regulated, conducted, governed and controlled in the manner provided by chapter 562, relating to the seizure, confiscation and forfeiture of property under the Beverage Law which is incorporated herein by reference except to the extent that such sections may conflict or be inconsistent herewith.

(5) From the proceeds of any sale hereunder the division shall collect the tax on the property, together with a penalty of 50 percent thereof and the costs incurred in such proceedings; the balance, if any, shall be payable by the division to the person in whose possession the said property was found or as the court may direct.

(6) The distribution by the division of the proceeds of the sale from any cigarettes or other property that may be forfeited and confiscated hereunder shall, after the payment of expenses of such forfeiture, be governed by the provisions of this part.

(7) No sale shall be made hereunder to any person except a licensed wholesale or retail dealer authorized to engage in the sale of cigarettes under the laws of Florida. All sales shall be made to the highest and best bidder for cash. The division shall provide for the payment of any taxes payable upon any cigarettes sold hereunder before the same are delivered to any purchaser.

(8) The state attorney for the judicial circuit in which such property was seized shall act as the attorney for the division in such confiscation and forfeiture proceedings.

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