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A Better Partnership
April 26, 2017

COA: $100 probationary fine for juvenile offenders has no statutory basis

A standard $100 “probation supervision” fee that had been charged to juvenile offenders in Washtenaw County had no statutory basis and is therefore invalid, the Michigan Court of Appeals held in In re Taylor Anne Killich, No. 329941.
 
After pleading no contest to a charge for poisoning food, drink, medicine, or water supply, Killich was ordered to do at least 20 hours of community service and, among other things, pay a a $100 probation-supervision fee related to her three months of probation.  The fee would go to the Washtenaw County General Fund.  The prosecution argued that this fee is supported by three different subsections of the Juvenile Code, in MCL 712A.18.  The Defendant objected to the fee, and the trial court imposed the fee over her objection. 
 
The Court of Appeals reversed.  The COA held that none of the three statutory justifications advanced by the prosecution sustained the $100 fee.  First, under MCL 712A.18(1)(b), a juvenile who commits a felony is required to pay a minimum cost for state costs for the juvenile’s probation.  But the statute only authorizes $68.  Thus, the COA held that this did not authorize the higher probation-supervision fee of $100.
 
Second, under MCL 712A.18(12), a court can order an assessment fee of $25 from juvenile offenders when the offense in question would be an adult felony, misdemeanor, or ordinance violation.  The $25 goes towards crime victim’s rights services.  The COA held this did not support the $100 fee because the statute in no way speaks to a $100 probation-supervision fee.  Further, although adult offenders can be given a higher assessment, Defendant could not be charged more than $25 for an assessment fee because she was a juvenile.
 
Third, under MCL 712A.18(3), a court can order a reimbursement for the cost of care or service.  The COA held, however, that the $100 fee charged to the defendant was not a reimbursement.  The statute specifically states that the reimbursement is for the cost of service, as in a specific cost already incurred.  The $100 fee here was a standard fee charged to any juvenile on probation; it was not a specific reimbursement for the cost of service.  There was no evidence presented to show that the $100 was either less than or equal to the cost of service.  Thus, this could not justify the imposition of the fee.
 
Accordingly, the COA vacated the $100 probation-supervision fee and remanded for a corrected order of disposition.
 

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