Miles v. Craighead County

Whether costs and fees collected in amounts greater than what is permitted by law constitutes an illegal exaction.  

Yes, charging costs and fees not permitted by law constitutes an illegal exaction, and the fees were not paid voluntarily. 

After entering into a plea agreement, the court ordered Christopher Miles to pay $731 in costs and fees, including an $86 “sheriff’s fee,” and a $100 fee for “lower court costs.” Arkansas statute only authorizes costs and fees of $150. 

Procedural History:
On December 8, 2012, Christopher Miles, on behalf of himself and those similarly situated, filed an illegal exaction case in the Craighead County Circuit Court. The circuit court found the fees and costs were paid voluntarily and did not constitute an illegal exaction, dismissing the case with prejudice. The Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. 

Court’s Reasoning:
The Arkansas Court of Appeals noted that because the costs and fees were in excess of what was permitted by statute, they constituted an illegal tax—one type of illegal exaction. Furthermore, because Craighead County was the recipient of the costs and fees collected, it was the proper party to be sued. 

Because fees paid voluntarily cannot be an illegal exaction, Craighead County argued that despite Miles paying the fees while under the compulsion of arrest, he did so voluntarily. The court dismissed this argument, holding that when the alternative to payment is the loss of liberty making the payment cannot be considered voluntary. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in dismissal of the case. 

You can read the Court’s full opinion here.


Miles v. Craighead County
Court of Appeals of Arkansas
March 2, 2022
2022 Ark. App. 105