1846. Seizure and forfeiture of cigarettes.--(a) Whenever a police officer designated in section 1.20 of the criminal procedure law or a peace officer designated in subdivision four of section 2.10 of such law, acting pursuant to his or her special duties, shall discover any cigarettes subject to tax provided by article twenty of this chapter or by chapter thirteen of title eleven of the administrative code of the city of New York, and upon which the tax has not been paid or the stamps not affixed as required by such article or such chapter thirteen, they are hereby authorized and empowered forthwith to seize and take possession of such cigarettes, together with any vending machine or receptacle in which they are held for sale. Such cigarettes, vending machine or receptacle seized by a police officer or such peace officer shall be turned over to the commissioner. Such seized cigarettes, vending machine or receptacle, not including money contained in such vending machine or receptacle, shall be forfeited to the state. The commissioner may, within a reasonable time thereafter, upon publication of a notice to such effect for at least five successive days, before the day of sale, in a newspaper published or circulated in the county where the seizure was made, sell such forfeited vending machines or receptacles at public sale and pay the proceeds into the state treasury to the credit of the general fund. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the commissioner may enter into an agreement with any city of this state which is authorized to impose a tax similar to that imposed by article twenty of this chapter to provide for the disposition between the state and any such city of the proceeds from any such sale. All cigarettes forfeited to the state shall be destroyed or used for law enforcement purposes, except that cigarettes that violate, or are suspected of violating, federal trademark laws or import laws shall not be used for law enforcement purposes. If the commissioner determines the cigarettes may not be used for law enforcement purposes, the commissioner must, within a reasonable time after the forfeiture of such cigarettes, upon publication in the state registry, destroy such forfeited cigarettes. The commissioner may, prior to any destruction of cigarettes, permit the true holder of the trademark rights in the cigarettes to inspect such forfeited cigarettes in order to assist in any investigation regarding such cigarettes.
(a-1) Whenever a police officer designated in section 1.20 of the criminal procedure law or a peace officer designated in subdivision four of section 2.10 of such law, acting pursuant to his or her special duties, shall discover any cigarettes which have been stamped in violation of section four hundred eighty-b of this chapter, such officer is hereby authorized and empowered forthwith to seize and take possession of such cigarettes, and such cigarettes shall be subject to a forfeiture action pursuant to the procedures provided for in article thirteen-A of the civil practice law and rules, as if such article specifically provided for forfeiture of cigarettes seized pursuant to this section as a preconviction forfeiture crime. Subdivisions (b), (c) and (d) of this section shall not apply to cigarettes seized pursuant to this subdivision.
(b) In the alternative, the tax commission, on reasonable notice by mail or otherwise, may permit the person from whom said cigarettes were seized to redeem the said cigarettes, and any vending machine or receptacle seized therewith, by the payment of the tax due, plus a penalty of fifty per centum thereof, plus interest on the amount of tax due for each month or fraction thereof after such tax became due (determined without regard to any extension of time for filing or paying) at the rate applicable under subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of subdivision one of section four hundred eighty-one of this chapter and the costs incurred in such proceeding, which total payment shall not be less than five dollars; provided, however, that such seizure and sale or redemption shall not be deemed to relieve any person from fine or imprisonment provided for in this article for violation of any provision of article twenty of this chapter.
(c) In the alternative, the tax commission may dispose of any cigarettes seized pursuant to this section, except those that violate, or are suspected of violating, federal trademark laws or import laws, by transferring them to the department of corrections and community supervision for sale to or use by inmates in such institutions.
(d) Cigarettes seized pursuant to a violation of section four hundred seventy-three-b of this chapter shall be destroyed. The department may also seize and destroy any vending machine or receptacle in which cigarettes stamped in violation of section four hundred seventy-three-b of this chapter are held for sale.
Last modified: February 3, 2019