This case challenges the imposition of a surcharge by the City of Missoula that is not authorized by state law. Appellant pled no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct. Sentence was deferred for 12 months and she was sentenced to a fine of $100, $50 for the cost of prosecution, and $110 in additional surcharges. As authorized by state law, the surcharges consisted of $15 for the salaries of the city attorney and deputies, $50 for a victim and witness advocate program, $10 for court information technology, and $10 for the Montana Law Enforcement Academy. The court also imposed an additional $25 surcharge to fund the City Attorney’s office. The defendant moved to strike the additional $25 surcharge, arguing that it was not authorized by Montana law.
The Missoula Municipal Court denied the motion to strike the $25 surcharge and the District Court affirmed. The Montana Supreme Court reversed, holding that the municipal court exceeded its authority by adding the $25 surcharge which imposed a greater burden on the appellant than allowed under Montana law. The Court remanded with instructions to strike the $25 surcharge. Franklin’s attorneys will also file a class action lawsuit to return that surcharge to everyone who has paid it since the resolution was passed more than five years ago. Further, following this decision, a lawsuit was filed against the City of Billings on behalf of individuals who paid a $10 surcharge after being convicted or pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges or traffic violations since 2005, which plaintiffs claim was similarly unauthorized by Montana law.