United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Dec 08, 2022

§ 7734.
Penalties for violation
(a)
Criminal penalties
(1)
Offenses
(A)
In general

A person that knowingly violates this chapter, or knowingly forges, counterfeits, or, without authority from the Secretary, uses, alters, defaces, or destroys any certificate, permit, or other document provided for in this chapter shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

(B)
Movement

A person that knowingly imports, enters, exports, or moves any plant, plant product, biological control organism, plant pest, noxious weed, or article, for distribution or sale, in violation of this chapter, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

(2)
Multiple violations

On the second and any subsequent conviction of a person of a violation of this chapter under paragraph (1), the person shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

(b)
Civil penalties
(1)
In general
Any person that violates this chapter, or that forges, counterfeits, or, without authority from the Secretary, uses, alters, defaces, or destroys any certificate, permit, or other document provided for in this chapter may, after notice and opportunity for a hearing on the record, be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary that does not exceed the greater of—
(A)
$50,000 in the case of any individual (except that the civil penalty may not exceed $1,000 in the case of an initial violation of this chapter by an individual moving regulated articles not for monetary gain), $250,000 in the case of any other person for each violation, $500,000 for all violations adjudicated in a single proceeding if the violations do not include a willful violation, and $1,000,000 for all violations adjudicated in a single proceeding if the violations include a willful violation; or
(B)
twice the gross gain or gross loss for any violation, forgery, counterfeiting, unauthorized use, defacing, or destruction of a certificate, permit, or other document provided for in this chapter that results in the person deriving pecuniary gain or causing pecuniary loss to another.
(2)
Factors in determining civil penalty
In determining the amount of a civil penalty, the Secretary shall take into account the nature, circumstance, extent, and gravity of the violation or violations and the Secretary may consider, with respect to the violator—
(A)
ability to pay;
(B)
effect on ability to continue to do business;
(C)
any history of prior violations;
(D)
the degree of culpability; and
(E)
any other factors the Secretary considers appropriate.
(3)
Settlement of civil penalties

The Secretary may compromise, modify, or remit, with or without conditions, any civil penalty that may be assessed under this subsection.

(4)
Finality of orders

The order of the Secretary assessing a civil penalty shall be treated as a final order reviewable under chapter 158 of title 28. The validity of the Secretary’s order may not be reviewed in an action to collect the civil penalty. Any civil penalty not paid in full when due under an order assessing the civil penalty shall thereafter accrue interest until paid at the rate of interest applicable to civil judgments of the courts of the United States.

(c)
Liability for acts of an agent

When construing and enforcing this chapter, the act, omission, or failure of any officer, agent, or person acting for or employed by any other person within the scope of his or her employment or office, shall be deemed also to be the act, omission, or failure of the other person.

(d)
Guidelines for civil penalties

The Secretary shall coordinate with the Attorney General to establish guidelines to determine under what circumstances the Secretary may issue a civil penalty or suitable notice of warning in lieu of prosecution by the Attorney General of a violation of this chapter.

(Pub. L. 106–224, title IV, § 424, June 20, 2000, 114 Stat. 450; Pub. L. 107–171, title X, § 10810, May 13, 2002, 116 Stat. 531; Pub. L. 110–234, title X, § 10203(d), May 22, 2008, 122 Stat. 1343; Pub. L. 110–246, § 4(a), title X, § 10203(d), June 18, 2008, 122 Stat. 1664, 2105.)
cite as: 7 USC 7734