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A Better Partnership
May 30, 2013

COA holds that calculating the specific costs of a case is not necessary when determining court costs

In People v. Cunningham, the Court of Appeals held that $1,000 in court costs imposed in a defendant's felony sentence was reasonable because the prosecutor established a sufficient factual basis for the amount imposed. Defendant argued that the sentencing court erred when it calculated court costs because it should not have considered indirect overhead costs in its calculations and because it failed to calculate the particular costs of his case when determining the fine. On remand, the Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the trial court's decision holding that a sentencing court may consider indirect costs because MCL 769.1k expressly allows a court to do so. Additionally, the Court held that a court need not calculate a particularized court cost in every criminal case because that method would require taking into account the length of a case. The Court went on to explain that if a sentencing court took into account the length of a case, then a court cost imposed on a defendant who went to trial would be substantially higher than a court cost imposed on a defendant who pled guilty, which would create a financial incentive for defendants to plead rather than face the possibility of greater court costs for exercising a constitutional right to trial.

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