|Posted:||December 18, 2014 01:39 PM|
|From:||Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Permitting the Office of Attorney General to Collect Laboratory Fees|
|In the near future, I plan to reintroduce HB 2406 of last session to permit the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to collect laboratory fees that are incurred during the investigation and prosecution of child predators and other serious crimes. It has come to my attention that the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and county laboratories are permitted to collect laboratory fees associated with investigations and prosecutions but the OAG is not permitted to collect the same fees.
In addition to handling its own investigations, the OAG Computer Forensic Unit aids numerous police departments throughout the Commonwealth in conducting investigations. It is common for police departments to submit computers, phones and other media devices to the OAG for expert forensic analysis. Most of these cases involve crimes against children as well as drug trafficking and violent crime, including murder. Each year, the number of requests to the OAG from departments increases.
Unfortunately, under the current statute, the OAG is not referenced in Section 1725.3 as an entity that can collect laboratory fees. Despite providing essential forensic analysis and testimony at trial, the OAG is not permitted to recoup the related costs from convicted defendants as other law enforcement entities. My legislation will make a simple change to Section 1725.3 that will permit the laboratory fee to be collected and then placed in a special fund that will be used solely for the operation of the OAG criminal laboratory. We anticipate the fees will be similar to fees the PSP currently assess to defendants.
As a point of reference, in June of 2013 we passed HB 1274 unanimously to permit county laboratories to collect these laboratory fees. We should pass this legislation because it’s the right thing to do and not let our personal bias toward the person occupying the office get in the way of advancing good public policy. Since the operation of the OAG Computer Forensic Unit is essential to investigations and prosecutions of serious offenses throughout the Commonwealth, I implore you to join me and support this legislation.
Previous co-sponsors: THOMAS, ROZZI, SWANGER, WATSON, MURT, YOUNGBLOOD, McNEILL, COHEN, DeLUCA, FRANKEL, KULA, BENNINGHOFF, WHITE and D. COSTA
Introduced as HB369