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Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1977 No. 33 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


While the provisions of chapter 291, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., relating to juvenile offenders, do not impliedly amend or repeal so much of § 1, chapter 259, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., as requires the fingerprinting of juveniles adjudged to be delinquent based upon conduct which would be a felony if committed by an adult, one result of chapter 291, when it goes into effect on July 1, 1978, will be the elimination of that particular classification of individuals (i.e., a juvenile found to be delinquent) upon which chapter 259 will, in the meantime, operate; accordingly, on and after July 1, 1978, the fingerprinting of juvenile offenders will be permissive rather than mandatory.

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                                                                    July 25, 1977

Honorable James E. Carty
Prosecuting Attorney
Clark County
P.O. Box 5000
Vancouver, Washington 98663                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1977 No. 33

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have directed our attention to the following provisions of § 1, chapter 259, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., which became effective when signed by the governor on June 15, 1977:

            "Following the effective date of this act, there shall be affixed to the original of every judgment and sentence of a felony conviction in every court in this state and every order adjudicating a juvenile to be a delinquent based upon conduct which would be a felony if committed by an adult, a fingerprint of the defendant or juvenile who is the subject of the order.  When requested by the clerk of the court, the actual affixing of fingerprints shall be done by a representative of the office of the county sheriff.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The clerk of the court shall attest that the fingerprints appearing on the judgment in sentence, order of adjudication of delinquency, or docket, is that of the individual who is the subject of the judgment or conviction, order, or docket entry."

            In addition, you have made note of § 71, chapter 291, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., which relates tojuvenile offenders (as defined in § 56(11) of the act) and reads as follows:

            "The fingerprints and photograph may be taken of any serious offender."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            In accordance with the provisions of § 83 of chapter 291, supra, this latter, permissive, provision is not scheduled to take effect until July 1, 1978‑-along with all of the remainder of chapter 291 except § 57 thereof.  Bearing that in mind you have requested our opinion on the following question:

            Does § 71 of chapter 291, supra, repeal the fingerprinting provisions of § 1, chapter 259,supra, insofar as juveniles are concerned?

            We answer the foregoing question in the manner set forth below.


            For purposes of further identification, chapter 291, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess.,supra, contains a comprehensive new juvenile court code consisting of more than seventy-five substantive sections‑-of which § 71,supra, is one.  On the other hand, chapter 259,supra, is a single section law as above quoted in full.

            Clearly, the provisions of § 1, chapter 259, are now in effect and, in any event, would remain fully in effect until July 1, 1978 (in the absence of further legislation) even if, somehow, the later enacted provisions of § 71, chapter 291,supra, were deemed to constitute an implied amendment or repeal of the earlier enacted law insofar as it pertains to juveniles.  Implied amendments or repeals, however, are most definitely not favored and because of that, it is well established that where several statutes can be harmonized there is no repeal or amendment by implication.  Misterek v. Wash. Mineral Prods., 85 Wn.2d 166, 531 P.2d 805 (1975), and cases cited therein.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            In this case, such a reconciliation is entirely possible.  Section 1 of chapter 259,supra, insofar as it relates to juvenile offenders, only pertains to those who have been adjudicated to be delinquent‑-and in such cases the statuterequires fingerprints to be taken.  Conversely, however, chapter 291,supra, repeals the present juvenile code under which an adjudication of juvenile delinquency is authorized and replaces it with a new law in which the term "juvenile delinquent" nowhere appears.

            Therefore, as we view it, the effect of chapter 291 is not that of amending or repealing § 1, chapter 259, supra, but, instead, it is merely that of eliminating (as of July 1, 1978) one of the classifications of individuals (i.e., a juvenile found to be a delinquent) upon which § 1, will, in the meantime, operate.

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General