A. In addition to the penalties prescribed in § 3.2-5229 or 3.2-5232, any person violating any provision of this article or regulation adopted hereunder may be assessed a civil penalty by the Commissioner for each violation in an amount not to exceed $ 15,000. In determining the amount of any civil penalty, the Commissioner shall give due consideration to: (i) the previous violations committed by the person; (ii) the seriousness of the violation; and (iii) the demonstrated good faith of the person charged in attempting to achieve compliance with this article or the regulations adopted hereunder after notification of the violation. Any civil penalty shall be in addition to any payment that may be required for the wholesale value of all milk and milk products that must be destroyed as a consequence of such violation.
B. A civil penalty may be assessed by the Commissioner only after he has given the person charged with a violation an opportunity for a public hearing. Where such a public hearing has been held, the Commissioner shall make findings of fact and issue a written decision as to the occurrence of the violation and the amount of the penalty that is warranted, incorporating, when appropriate, an order therein requiring that the penalty be paid. When appropriate, the Commissioner shall consolidate such hearings with other proceedings pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. Any hearing under this section shall be a formal adjudicatory hearing in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.). When the person charged with such a violation fails to avail himself of the opportunity for a public hearing, a civil penalty shall be assessed by the Commissioner after the Commissioner determines that a violation has occurred and the amount of the penalty warranted, and issues an order requiring that the penalty be paid.
C. Civil penalties assessed under this section shall be paid into the general fund of the state treasury. The Board shall prescribe procedures for payment of civil penalties. The procedures shall include provisions for a person to consent to abatement of the alleged violation and pay a penalty or negotiated sum in lieu of such penalty without admission of civil liability arising from such alleged violation.
D. Final orders may be recorded, enforced and satisfied as orders or decrees of a circuit court upon certification of such orders by the Commissioner. Such orders may be appealed in accordance with provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.).
E. Nothing in this section shall require the Commissioner to institute proceedings for the imposition of civil penalties if the Commissioner considers the violations of this article to be minor. In such cases, the Commissioner may serve a suitable notice of warning in writing when he believes that the public interest will be served by so doing.
2000, c. 993, § 3.1-545.1; 2008, c. 860.