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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 25, 2017 12:42 PM
From: Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone
To: All House members
Subject: Permit the OAG to Collect Laboratory Fees incurred during Child Predator Investigations & Prosecutions
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce HB 369 from 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 permitting 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. 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.

Please join me and cosponsor this legislation.

Introduced as HB1255