Historical and Revision Notes
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
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.
Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment
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:
This Act may be cited as the ‘Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990’.
“findings and purpose
(a)Findings.—The Congress finds that—
the power of Federal agencies to impose civil monetary penalties for violations of Federal law and regulations plays an important role in deterring violations and furthering the policy goals embodied in such laws and regulations;
the impact of many civil monetary penalties has been and is diminished due to the effect of inflation;
by reducing the impact of civil monetary penalties, inflation has weakened the deterrent effect of such penalties; and
the Federal Government does not maintain comprehensive, detailed accounting of the efforts of Federal agencies to assess and collect civil monetary penalties.
“(b)Purpose.—The purpose of this Act is to establish a mechanism that shall—
allow for regular adjustment for inflation of civil monetary penalties;
maintain the deterrent effect of civil monetary penalties and promote compliance with the law; and
improve the collection by the Federal Government of civil monetary penalties.
“Sec. 3. For purposes of this Act, the term—
‘agency’ means an Executive agency as defined under section 105 of title 5
, United States Code, and includes the United States Postal Service;
“(2) ‘civil monetary penalty’ means any penalty, fine, or other sanction that—
is for a specific monetary amount as provided by Federal law; or
has a maximum amount provided for by Federal law; and
is assessed or enforced by an agency pursuant to Federal law; and
is assessed or enforced pursuant to an administrative proceeding or a civil action in the Federal courts; and
‘Consumer Price Index’ means the Consumer Price Index for all-urban consumers published by the Department of Labor.
“civil monetary penalty inflation adjustment reports
(a)In General.—Not later than July 1, 2016, and not later than January 15 of every year thereafter, and subject to subsections (c) and (d), the head of each agency shall—
in accordance with subsection (b), adjust each civil monetary penalty provided by law within the jurisdiction of the Federal agency, except for any penalty (including any addition to tax and additional amount) under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 [26 U.S.C. 1
et seq.] or the Tariff Act of 1930 [19 U.S.C. 1202
et seq.], by the inflation adjustment described under section 5 of this Act; and
publish each such adjustment in the Federal Register.
“(b) Procedures for Adjustments.—
“(1)Catch up adjustment.—For the first adjustment made under subsection (a) after the date of enactment of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 [Nov. 2, 2015]—
the head of an agency shall adjust civil monetary penalties through an interim final rulemaking; and
the adjustment shall take effect not later than August 1, 2016.
For the second adjustment made under subsection (a) after the date of enactment of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, and each adjustment thereafter, the head of an agency shall adjust civil monetary penalties and shall make the adjustment notwithstanding section 553 of title 5
, United States Code.
“(c)Exception.—For the first adjustment made under subsection (a) after the date of enactment of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the head of an agency may adjust the amount of a civil monetary penalty by less than the otherwise required amount if—
“(1) the head of the agency, after publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking and providing an opportunity for comment, determines in a final rule that—
increasing the civil monetary penalty by the otherwise required amount will have a negative economic impact; or
the social costs of increasing the civil monetary penalty by the otherwise required amount outweigh the benefits; and
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget concurs with the determination of the head of the agency under paragraph (1).
“(d)Other Adjustments Made.—
If a civil monetary penalty subject to a cost-of-living adjustment under this Act is, during the 12 months preceding a required cost-of-living adjustment, increased by an amount greater than the amount of the adjustment required under subsection (a), the head of the agency is not required to make the cost-of-living adjustment for that civil monetary penalty in that year.
“cost-of-living adjustments of civil monetary penalties
The inflation adjustment under section 4 shall be determined by increasing the maximum civil monetary penalty or the range of minimum and maximum civil monetary penalties, as applicable, for each civil monetary penalty by the cost-of-living adjustment. Any increase determined under this subsection shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of $1.
“(1)In general.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), for purposes of subsection (a), the term ‘cost-of-living adjustment’ means the percentage (if any) for each civil monetary penalty by which—
the Consumer Price Index for the month of October preceding the date of the adjustment, exceeds
the Consumer Price Index for the month of October 1 year before the month of October referred to in subparagraph (A).
“(2) Initial adjustment.—
Subject to subparagraph (C), for the first inflation adjustment under section 4 made by an agency after the date of enactment of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 [Nov. 2, 2015], the term ‘cost-of-living adjustment’ means the percentage (if any) for each civil monetary penalty by which the Consumer Price Index for the month of October, 2015 exceeds the Consumer Price Index for the month of October of the calendar year during which the amount of such civil monetary penalty was established or adjusted under a provision of law other than this Act.
“(B)Application of adjustment.—
The cost-of-living adjustment described in subparagraph (A) shall be applied to the amount of the civil monetary penalty as it was most recently established or adjusted under a provision of law other than this Act.
The amount of the increase in a civil monetary penalty under subparagraph (A) shall not exceed 150 percent of the amount of that civil monetary penalty on the date of enactment of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.
Any increase under this Act in a civil monetary penalty shall apply only to civil monetary penalties, including those whose associated violation predated such increase, which are assessed after the date the increase takes effect.
“SEC. 7. Implementation and oversight enhancements
Not later than February 29, 2016, not later than December 15, 2016, and December 15 of every year thereafter, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall issue guidance to agencies on implementing the inflation adjustments required under this Act.
“(b)Agency Financial Reports.—
The head of each agency shall include in the Agency Financial Report submitted under OMB Circular A–136, or any successor thereto, information about the civil monetary penalties within the jurisdiction of the agency, including the adjustment of the civil monetary penalties by the head of the agency under this Act.
The Comptroller General of the United States shall annually submit to Congress a report assessing the compliance of agencies with the inflation adjustments required under this Act, which may be included as part of another report submitted to Congress.”
[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.]