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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Arrest Booking Fee Upheld by 7th Circuit

The Village of Woodridge had an ordinance in place that imposed a $30 booking fee on individuals who are arrested in the Village. That fee was imposed on plaintiff after he was arrested for retail theft in 2011. The plaintiff filed a class action civil rights lawsuit against the Village to challenge the fee, claiming the fee violated both the procedural and substantive due process rights. The district court dismissed the case, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in Markadonatos v. Village of Woodridge (7th Cir., Jan. 8, 2014).

Although the Court acknowledged that the fee was imposed without hearing or any other procedure, it determined that the need for a hearing in this situation was extremely low because there was practically no risk of an erroneous deprivation in imposing the $30 fee. The fee was only imposed upon plaintiff's arrest, which he did not challenge. The Court also determined that the government had sufficient interest in imposing the $30 fee to offset a portion of the administrative costs incurred in processing arrested individuals. As a result, the balance weighed in favor of the Village, and the district court properly dismissed the due process claims.

Justice Hamilton dissented to the majority opinion.  In his opinion, the booking fee ordinance was unconstitutional on its face because it takes property from all arrestees - guilty and innocent - without due process of law, because it imposes "punishment" (in the form of the booking fee) before a verdict.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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