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
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
Police department imposing fee for receiving court-ordered bond
A police department may not charge and collect an administrative fee for receiving a bond ordered by a judge.
Opinion No. 7070
January 3, 2001
Honorable Laura M. Toy
You have asked whether a police department may charge and collect an administrative fee for receiving a bond ordered by a judge.
Information supplied with your request indicates that a police department plans to impose an administrative fee of $5.00 or more when it receives a bond ordered by a judge on an arrest warrant or bench warrant.
A police department is part of local government. In Michigan, local units of government have no inherent powers. Rather, they have only the limited powers "expressly conferred upon them by the Constitution of the State of Michigan, by acts of the Legislature, or necessarily implied therefrom." Crain v Gibson, 73 Mich App 192, 200; 250 NW2d 792 (1977), citing Alan v Wayne Co, 388 Mich 210; 200 NW2d 628 (1972); Const 1963, art 7, § 34.
Under the common law, there is no right to collect fees in court proceedings. A fee must be authorized by a statute before a public officer or public employee may impose the fee in a court proceeding. Fletcher v Kalkaska Circuit Judge, 81 Mich 186, 194; 45 NW 641 (1890); In re Fees of Court Officer, 222 Mich App 234, 242; 564 NW2d 509 (1997). The Michigan Legislature has adopted this same basic principle by enacting at least two statutory provisions limiting the imposition of fees in criminal and civil cases to those "allowed by the laws of this state" (MCL 600.2513; MSA 27A.2513), or to those "allowed by law for such services." MCL 775.10; MSA 28.1247.
Through 1966 PA 257, MCL 780.61 et seq; MSA 28.872(51) et seq, the Legislature has regulated bail for persons accused of traffic and misdemeanor offenses. When an accused person posts bail, she obtains her release from custody in exchange for promising to appear as directed for all court hearings in her case. A deliberate failure to appear results in the accused forfeiting the money she posted as bail. Section 8 of the bail statute authorizes a police officer to collect bail from an accused and to deposit it with the court clerk. But there is no authority for a police department or its employees to impose an additional administrative fee when it collects a court-ordered bond. In contrast, section 6(6) of 1966 PA 257 expressly authorizes court clerks to retain ten percent of the bail deposit as a service fee in certain cases. See also OAG, 1981-1982, No 5890, pp 153, 156 (April 30, 1981).
Research discloses no statute authorizing a police department to impose any administrative fee when it collects a court-ordered bond. In the absence of an authorizing statute, it must be concluded that a police department lacks authority to impose an administrative fee for collecting a court-ordered bond.
It is my opinion, therefore, that a police department may not charge and collect an administrative fee for receiving a bond ordered by a judge.
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM