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MADISON - Responding to an inquiry from Grant County Corporation Counsel Jo-Ann Millhouse, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today issued a formal opinion concerning the statutory authority of county sheriffs to charge fees for fingerprinting and to recover costs incurred by sheriff's departments in connection with fingerprinting.
Van Hollen stated that county sheriffs lack statutory authority to charge fees for or to recover costs associated with fingerprinting persons who are arrested or taken into custody. Van Hollen also stated that county sheriffs do not have statutory authority to charge fees for or to recover costs associated with fingerprinting persons who need to submit fingerprints to the Department of Justice in order to be eligible for certain occupations or certain kinds of employment.
Van Hollen's opinion identified certain statutes that allow county departments of social services or county departments of human services to require fingerprinting and to charge fees that can be used to defray the costs of such fingerprinting. Van Hollen indicated that if the sheriff's department does fingerprinting that is required by another county agency that is authorized to charge a fee to recover fingerprinting costs, then the county board could remit a portion of the fee charged by the county department of social services or the county department of human services to the sheriff's department to cover fingerprinting costs that are incurred by the sheriff's department.