Nickel and Diming the Criminal Defendant: A Look at Financial Penalties in Penalty Cases

More frequently than ever before, criminal sentences in Michigan include significant financial penalties that are either set by law or imposed in the discretion of the trial judge. These penalties apply to prison sentences as well as probationary terms. Because many defendants are indigent and will have little or no ability to pay, especially once they enter the prison system, questions arise as to the validity of these assessments. Is there legal authority for the financial penalty? Is the defendant’s ability to pay relevant at all? And where exactly does the money go? What follows is a list of the various costs, fees and assessments that may be ordered with a felony sentence and the statutory authority supporting them.

Nickel and Diming the Criminal Defendant