The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us) STATE OF MICHIGAN
FRANK J. KELLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL
Prosecutor's authority to require criminal defendant to pay costs
A prosecutor is not authorized by law to require a criminal defendant to pay costs as a condition for reducing or dismissing criminal charges pending against the defendant. A court may, however, when sentencing a convicted defendant, impose such costs as are permitted by statute, including those permissible costs agreed to between the prosecutor and the defendant as part of a plea bargain.
Opinion No. 6995
September 16, 1998
Honorable Allen Lowe
Lansing, MI 48913
You have asked two questions concerning the authority of a county prosecutor to require a criminal defendant to pay "local costs."
Your first question asks whether a prosecutor is authorized by law to require a criminal defendant to pay costs as a condition for reducing or dismissing criminal charges pending against the defendant.
STATE OF MICHIGAN
Criminal prosecutions are governed by the Michigan Code of Criminal Procedure (Code), 1927 PA 175, MCL 760.1 et seq; MSA 28.841 et seq. The Code, at Chapter XI, MCL 771.1 et seq; MSA 28.1131 et seq, authorizes the imposition of costs in criminal cases. If a defendant has been found guilty, and if it appears to the satisfaction of the court that the defendant is an appropriate candidate, the court may place the defendant on probation. Section 1. As a condition of probation, the court may require the defendant to pay costs. Section 3(2)(c). Such costs, however, are limited to expenses specifically incurred in prosecuting the defendant, in providing legal assistance to the defendant, and in providing probation supervision of the defendant. Section 3(4).
The type of costs which may be imposed against a convicted defendant under section 3(4), supra, was most recently considered in People v Humphreys, 221 Mich App 443, 452; 561 NW2d 868 (1997), where the court stated:
Our Supreme Court interpreted [this statute] in People v Teasdale, 335 Mich 1, 4-5; 55 NW2d 149 (1952), and concluded that its purpose was to grant to the court discretionary authority to require a probationer to reimburse the public for expenditures reasonably and properly incurred in connection with the case. . . .
We conclude that the trial court properly ordered defendant to pay those costs relating to both the prosecution and the defense of his case.
[S]uch an amount as would reimburse the public for expenses, direct and indirect, incurred in the apprehension, examination, trial and probationary oversight of such probationer. The language of the statute necessarily implies that the expenses in question must have been incurred in connection with the particular case in which the order of probation is made, and, hence, excludes expenditures in connection with the maintenance and functioning of governmental agencies that must be borne by the public irrespective of specific violations of the law.
1 See, e.g., MCL 257.625(11); MSA 9.2325(11), dealing with driving while intoxicated, and MCL 324.2157; MSA 13A.2157; MCL 324.40118; MSA 13A.40118; MCL 324.43560; MSA 13A.43560; MCL 324.47327; MSA 13A.47327; MCL 324.73110(5); MSA 13A.73110(5); and MCL 324.74206; MSA 13A.74206, all dealing with violations of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, MCL 324.101 et seq; MSA 13A.101 et seq.