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AGO 1955 No. 89 - June 03, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

PAYMENT OF THE TRAVELING EXPENSES OF A DEFENDANT

It would be an improper expense for the county sheriff to pay for the return of a defendant to his place of arrest after the criminal action which the defendant was charged with has been dismissed.

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                                                                    June 3, 1955

Honorable Paul A. Klasen, Jr.
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County
Ephrata, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 89

Dear Sir:

            In your recent letter you asked the following question:

            "Is it a proper expense for the county sheriff to pay for the return of a defendant to his place of arrest after the criminal action which the defendant was charged with has been dismissed by the Prosecuting attorney?"

            Our conclusion is that such an expense would be improper.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            It is well recognized that a county, being a political subdivision of the state, is not liable for a defendant's expenses or court costs, whether he be acquitted or convicted, in the absence of a statute so providing.  State ex rel. Rochford v. Superior Court, 4 Wash. 30; State v. Rutledge, 40 Wash. 6; Pierce County v. Magnuson, 70 Wash. 639;King County v. Seattle, 195 Wash. 293.  Our search of the laws of the state of Washington fails to disclose any provision for the payment of the transportation costs of an acquitted defendant after the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] case against him has been dismissed.

            We recognize that RCW 36.17.060 provides for the expenses of jurors, witnesses and officers who are required to attend the court or travel on official business outside of their own county.  We also note that RCW 36.01.060 provides that the county shall reimburse the sheriff for the costs "of maintaining prisoners and his costs in conveying them to and from court, as well as their board while there."  However, the latter statute appears to deal with the period of the defendant's confinement and neither of these statutes expressly provides for the cost of transporting the defendant to his place of arrest after his charge is dismissed.

            We have further analyzed RCW 10.46.200 and 10.46.210, which provide for the payment of the discharged defendant's expenses of subsistence while he was in custody of the county and for his court costs.  However, once again, the travel expense of the acquitted defendant is not an expense of subsistence during confinement or one of the court costs allowed by statute.

            Therefore, since there is no statute expressly authorizing the expenditure, we believe it is improper.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

QUINBY R. BINGHAM
Assistant Attorney General

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