Earlier this year the Michigan Supreme Court held in People v. Cunningham that a court may impose costs in a criminal case only if those costs are authorized by statute. This decision has a huge impact on courts across Michigan including our district courts.
Last week the House passed House Bill 5785, legislation that would allow a court to impose any reasonable cost on a defendant found guilty of a crime. Unfortunately on the House floor an amendment was added that would sunset the legislation in two years. We’ll be working to remove the sunset in the Senate.
Reasonable costs include salaries and benefits of court personnel; goods and services necessary for operation of the court; and/or necessary expenses for the operation and maintenance of court buildings and facilities.
The bill requires the court to make available to the general public and the defendant information about any costs, fines or assessments imposed beginning June 18, 2014.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League handling municipal finance issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-908-0306.