28 U.S. Code § 2461. Mode of recovery
Subsection (a) was drafted to clarify a serious ambiguity in existing law and is based upon rulings of the Supreme Court. Numerous sections in the United States Code prescribe civil fines, penalties, and pecuniary forfeitures for violation of certain sections without specifying the mode of recovery or enforcement thereof. See, for example, section 567 of title 12, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Banks and Banking, section 64 of title 14, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Coast Guard, and section 180 of title 25, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Indians. Compare section 1 (21) of title 49, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Transportation.
A civil fine, penalty, or pecuniary forfeiture is recoverable in a civil action. United States ex rel. Marcus v. Hess et al., 1943, 63 S.Ct. 379, 317 U.S. 537, 87 L.Ed. 433, rehearing denied 63 S.Ct. 756, 318 U.S. 799, 87 L.Ed. 1163; Hepner v. United States, 1909, 29 S.Ct. 474, 213 U.S. 103, 53 L.Ed. 720, and cases cited therein.
Forfeiture of bail bonds in criminal cases are enforceable by procedure set out in Rule 46 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
If the statute contemplates a criminal fine, it can only be recovered in a criminal proceeding under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, after a conviction. The collection of civil fines and penalties, however, may not be had under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 54(b)(5), but enforcement of a criminal fine imposed in a criminal case may be had by execution on the judgment rendered in such case, as in civil actions. (See section 569 of title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Crimes and Criminal Procedure, incorporated in section 3565 of H.R. 1600, 80th Congress, for revision of the Criminal Code. See also Rule 69 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Advisory Committee Note thereunder, as to execution in civil actions.)
Subsection (b) was drafted to cover the subject of forfeiture of property generally. Sections in the United States Code specifically providing a mode of enforcement of forfeiture of property for their violation and other procedural matters will, of course, govern and subsection (b) will not affect them. It will only cover cases where no mode of recovery is prescribed.
Words “Unless otherwise provided by enactment of Congress” were inserted at the beginning of subsection (b) to exclude from its application instances where a libel in admiralty is not required. For example, under sections 1607, 1609, and 1610 of title 19, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Customs Duties, the collector of customs may, by summary procedure, sell at public auction, without previous declaration of forfeiture or libel proceedings, any vessel, etc., under $1,000 in value in cases where no claim for the same is filed or bond given as required by customs laws.
Rule 81 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure makes such rules applicable to the appeals in cases of seizures on land. (See also 443 Cans of Frozen Egg Product v. United States, 1912, 33 S.Ct. 50, 226 U.S. 172, 57 L.Ed. 174, and Eureka Productions v. Mulligan, C.C.A. 1940, 108 F.2d 760.) The proceeding, which resembles a suit in admiralty in that it is begun by a libel, is, strictly speaking, an “action at law” (The Sarah, 1823, 8 Wheat. 391, 21 U.S. 391, 5 L.Ed. 644; Morris’s Cotton, 1869, 8 Wall. 507, 75 U.S. 507, 19 L.Ed. 481; Confiscation cases, 1873, 20 Wall. 92, 87 U.S. 92, 22 L.Ed. 320; Eureka Productions v. Mulligan, supra), even though the statute may direct that the proceedings conform to admiralty as near as may be. In re Graham, 1870, 10 Wall. 541, 19 L.Ed. 981, and 443 Cans of Frozen Egg Product v. United States, supra.
Subsection (b) is in conformity with Rule 21 of the Supreme Court Admiralty Rules, which recognizes that a libel may be filed upon seizure for any breach of any enactment of Congress, whether on land or on the high seas or on navigable waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States. Such rule also permits an information to be filed, but is rarely, if ever, used at present. Consequently, “information” has been omitted from the text and only “libel” is incorporated.
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, referred to in subsec. (c), are set out in the Appendix to Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure.
The Controlled Substances Act, referred to in subsec. (c), is title II of Pub. L. 91–513, Oct. 27, 1970, 84 Stat. 1242, as amended, which is classified principally to subchapter I (§ 801 et seq.) of chapter 13 of Title 21, Food and Drugs. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 801 of Title 21 and Tables.
2006—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 109–177 amended subsec. (c) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (c) read as follows: “If a forfeiture of property is authorized in connection with a violation of an Act of Congress, and any person is charged in an indictment or information with such violation but no specific statutory provision is made for criminal forfeiture upon conviction, the Government may include the forfeiture in the indictment or information in accordance with the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and upon conviction, the court shall order the forfeiture of the property in accordance with the procedures set forth in section 413 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 853), other than subsection (d) of that section.”
2000—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 106–185 added subsec. (c).
Amendment by Pub. L. 106–185 applicable to any forfeiture proceeding commenced on or after the date that is 120 days after Apr. 25, 2000, see section 21 of Pub. L. 106–185, set out as a note under section 1324 of Title 8, Aliens and Nationality.
Pub. L. 101–410, Oct. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 890, as amended by Pub. L. 104–134, title III, § 31001(s)(1), Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321–373; Pub. L. 105–362, title XIII, § 1301(a), Nov. 10, 1998, 112 Stat. 3293; Pub. L. 114–74, title VII, § 701(b), Nov. 2, 2015, 129 Stat. 599, provided that:
[Pub. L. 104–134, title III, § 31001(s)(2), Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321–373, which provided that the first adjustment of a civil monetary penalty made pursuant to the amendment by § 31001(s)(1) of Pub. L. 104–134 (amending Pub. L. 101–410, set out above) could not exceed 10 percent of the penalty, was repealed by Pub. L. 114–74, title VII, § 701(c), Nov. 2, 2015, 129 Stat. 601.]
[For authority of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to consolidate reports required under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, Pub. L. 101–410, set out above, to be submitted between Jan. 1, 1995, and Sept. 30, 1997, or to adjust their frequency and due dates, see section 404 of Pub. L. 103–356, set out as a note under section 501 of Title 31, Money and Finance.]
 So in original.