Michigan Supreme Court ADM File No. 2015-12: Nonpayment incarceration, ability to pay

This order amends ten Michigan Court Rules to ensure that defendants are not incarcerated and probation terms are not extended because of unpaid fines and fees. The language of the rule also applies to juvenile defendants and their families or caretakers.

Before an individual can be incarcerated for nonpayment, the rule requires Michigan courts to consider the individual’s ability to pay and whether they made a good faith attempt to pay their fines and fees. They can only be jailed for nonpayment if they were able to pay and “have not made a good-faith effort” to pay.

The court rule also outlines the process to evaluate whether imposed court costs cause manifest hardship on an individual. Evaluations are made using the following criteria: employment status and history, employability and earning ability, willfulness of the person’s failure to pay, financial resources, basic living expenses including but not limited to food, shelter, clothing, necessary medical expenses, or child support, and any other special circumstances that may have bearing on the person’s ability to pay.

You can read the full text here.

Michigan Supreme Court