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Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1949 No. 186 - Dec 28 1949
Attorney General Smith Troy


A charge may legally be made for photostating or copying documents to be used by veterans in applying for the bonus.

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                                                               December 28, 1949

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 186

Attention:  Mr. H. C. Ashenfelter

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of December 13, 1949, in which you request our opinion as to whether it would be in violation of § 10, chapter 180, Laws of 1949, the World War II Veterans' Bonus Law, for any public officer such as county auditor, county clerk, city clerk or other, to charge a fee for making a photostatic copy of a discharge or other document necessary to complete an application for the Washington state bonus.

            Our conclusion is that a charge for making a photostatic copy of such a document would not violate the act.


            Section 10, chapter 180, Laws of 1949, provides:

            "No charge shall be made by any agent, notary public or attorney for any service in connection with filing an application to obtain the allowance provided for by this act, and no person shall, for a consideration, discount or attempt to discount, or for a consideration, advance money upon any certificate or certificates issued pursuant to the terms of this act.  Any violation of this section shall be a gross misdemeanor."

             Orig. Op. Page 2

            This section is penal in nature and its violation is punishable as a gross misdemeanor.  Penal statutes are strictly construed.  The statute prohibits a charge by "any agent, notary public or attorney."  The prohibition is confined to those persons.  An agent is defined in Ballentine's Law Dictionary as follows:

            "One who is authorized to bind his principal contracturally contractuallyor by representations."

            Thus, the prohibition of the statute would apply to one who undertook to represent the veteran in his dealings with the state in connection with the bonus.  Reference to "notary public" or "attorney" is obvious in its meaning.  The statute does not apply to persons acting in any other capacity.  One who photostats or copies a document for a veteran does not act in one of the named capacities.  Thus, the statute does not, in our opinion, prohibit any person from making a charge for photostating or copying any document to be used by the veteran in making his application for the bonus.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General