Section 36-25-27

Penalties; enforcement; jurisdiction, venue, judicial review; limitations period.

THIS SECTION WAS AMENDED BY ACT 2018-515 IN THE 2018 REGULAR SESSION, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2018. THIS IS NOT IN THE CURRENT CODE SUPPLEMENT.

(a)(1) Except as otherwise provided, any person subject to this chapter who intentionally violates any provision of this chapter other than those for which a separate penalty is provided for in this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a Class B felony.

(2) Any person subject to this chapter who violates any provision of this chapter other than those for which a separate penalty is provided for in this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(3) Any person subject to this chapter who knowingly violates any disclosure requirement of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(4) Any person who knowingly makes or transmits a false report or complaint pursuant to this chapter shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and shall be liable for the actual legal expenses incurred by the respondent against whom the false report or complaint was filed.

(5) Any person who makes false statements to an employee of the commission or to the commission itself pursuant to this chapter without reason to believe the accuracy of the statements shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(6) Any person subject to this chapter who intentionally violates this chapter relating to secrecy shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a Class C felony.

(7) Any person subject to this chapter who intentionally fails to disclose information required by this chapter shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

(b) If a respondent petitions the commission or the respondent otherwise agrees to an administrative resolution of the complaint filed against him or her, the commission may administratively resolve a complaint filed pursuant to this chapter for minor violations upon a unanimous vote and subsequent approval by the appropriate district attorney or the Attorney General. The commission may impose an administrative penalty not to exceed six thousand dollars ($6,000) for any minor violation of this chapter. In addition to any administrative penalty, the commission shall order restitution in the amount of any economic loss to the state, county, municipality, or instrumentality of the state, county, or municipality, and when collected, the restitution shall be paid by the commission to the entity having the economic loss. The commission, through its attorney, shall institute proceedings to recover any penalties or restitution or other such funds so ordered pursuant to this section which are not paid by, or on behalf of, the public official or public employee or other person who has violated this chapter. Nothing in this section shall be deemed in any manner to prohibit the commission and the respondent from entering into a consent decree settling a complaint which has previously been designated by the commission for administrative resolution, so long as the consent decree is approved by the commission. If the commission, the respondent, and the Attorney General or district attorney having jurisdiction, all concur that a complaint is deemed to be handled administratively, the action shall preclude any criminal prosecution pursuant to this chapter at the state, county, or municipal level.

(c) The enforcement of this chapter shall be vested in the commission; provided, however, nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to limit or otherwise prohibit the Attorney General or the district attorney for the appropriate jurisdiction from enforcing any provision of this chapter as they deem appropriate. In the event the commission, by majority vote, finds that any provision of this chapter has been violated, the alleged violation and any investigation conducted by the commission shall be referred to the district attorney of the appropriate jurisdiction or the Attorney General. The commission shall provide any and all appropriate assistance to such district attorney or Attorney General. Upon the request of such district attorney or the Attorney General, the commission may institute, prosecute, or take such other appropriate legal action regarding such violations, proceeding therein with all rights, privileges, and powers conferred by law upon assistant attorneys general.

(d) Nothing in this chapter limits the power of the state to punish any person for any conduct which otherwise constitutes a crime by statute or at common law.

(e) The penalties prescribed in this chapter do not in any manner limit the power of a legislative body to discipline its own members or to impeach public officials and do not limit the powers of agencies, departments, boards, or commissions to discipline their respective officials, members, or employees.

(f) If a person fails to pay any penalty, fine, or restitution imposed by the commission pursuant to this chapter, the commission may file an action to collect the penalty, fine, or restitution in the District Court or Circuit Court of Montgomery County. The person shall be responsible for paying all costs associated with the collection of the penalty, fine, or restitution.

(g) Each district or circuit court of this state shall have jurisdiction in all cases and actions relating to the enforcement of this chapter, and the venue of any action pursuant to this chapter shall be in the county in which the alleged violation occurred, or in those cases where the alleged violation occurred outside the State of Alabama or for failure to properly or timely file any form required by the commission, in Montgomery County. In the case of judicial review of any administrative decision of the commission, the commission's order, rule, or decision shall be taken as prima facie just and reasonable and the court shall not substitute its judgment for that of the commission as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact except where otherwise authorized by law.

(h) Any felony prosecution brought pursuant to this chapter shall be commenced within four years after the commission of the offense.

(i) Any misdemeanor prosecution brought pursuant to this chapter shall be commenced within two years after the commission of the offense.

(j) Nothing in this chapter is intended to nor is to be construed as repealing in any way the provisions of any of the criminal laws of this state.

(Acts 1973, No. 1056, p. 1699, §26; Acts 1975, No. 130, p. 603, §1; Acts 1986, No. 86-321, p. 475, §1; Acts 1995, No. 95-194, p. 269, §1; Acts 1996, No. 96-261, p. 307, §1; Act 2010-763, 1st Sp. Sess., p. 17, §1; Act 2018-515, §1.)