Michigan’s Supreme Court Changes How Defendant’s Pay Court Costs

County courts concerned over a new state Supreme Court ruling. It strips them of the authority to charge defendants unspecified court costs.

Local courts still aren’t sure just how much money they stand to lose. But it could be thousands of dollars they will now have to make up somewhere else.

“Its a concern state wide that right now its a big pool of money and how is it going to be replaced,” said Charlevoix County Prosecutor Allen Telgenhof.

Courts say this recent change in court fees could hurt the system.

Now, unless specifically stated by law, criminal defendants won’t have to pay a blanket court fee.

“There’s different laws that apply; different kinds of cases you can assess different court costs so like a drunk driving case, it’s a statutory cost they can charge, said Telgenhof.

Some fees will still be charged — but potentially thousands of dollars will now be gone from the court’s budget.

No one knows what the next step is to make up for the loss.

Bob Engel is a private attorney who think’s taxpayers could potentially see those costs. “When you’re trying to support the court system with less money its going to be difficult, the courts would then have to rely on the county itself to provide the funds,” said Engel.

And some believe that could ultimately  hurt taxpayers.

“The law hurts the general public, it helps the defendant in a certain case. It’s going to come from the taxpayers pocket now instead of the criminal defendant,” said Engel.

Courts hope the state lawmakers help everyone figure out how to deal with these changes

“I think in the long run either through a legislative fix or courts handling it differently it will be settled or resolved,” said Telgenhof.