Chicago Suburb Rules $30 Police Booking Fee Constitutional

| by Will Hagle

The Village of Woodridge, a predominately wealthy suburb of Chicago, charges a $30 booking fee for every individual that its police force arrests, regardless of whether or not they are found guilty. This law has long been written under Title 5 of the Village Code. Only recently was the fee challenged by an individual arrested for theft. 

Jerry Markadonatos filed a class action suit against the village after his arrest, claiming that the booking fee “violates arrestees’ due process rights,” Court House News reports.

According to Simple Justice, Markadonatos was given a period of supervision which he completed and ultimately adjudicated not guilty. His lawsuit in the 7th Circuit Court, however, was unsuccessful. 

In Judge Stadtmueller’s opinion, he explains that the $30 booking fee should be allowed to continue in Woodridge. 

“The $30 fee is extremely modest, and of an amount that does not rise to the level of a fundamental right. Accordingly, we do not believe that any fundamental right is implicated here, and therefore we need only ensure that Woodridge’s booking fee is rational and not arbitrary. Woodridge’s booking fee clearly passes the rational basis test. In imposing the fee, Woodridge hopes to offset the cost of booking arrestees, or at the very least to collect revenue, either of which is a legitimate goal,” Judge Stadtmueller wrote. 

Judge Hamilton, the lone dissenting judge in the case, argued that the village’s booking fee is unconstitutional.

“This should be a simple case. The village’s ‘booking fee’ ordinance is unconstitutional on its face. It takes property from all arrestees—the guilty and the innocent alike—without due process of law. The deprivation occurs at the time of arrest, immediately and finally. It occurs based on only the say-so and perhaps even the whim of one arresting officer. By no stretch of the imagination can that be due process of law,” Judge Hamilton wrote. 

The specific case of Markadonatos was thrown out because police had cause to arrest him and he pleaded guilty to the charges against him, but the court’s opinion specifically addresses the booking fee as within legal boundaries even while unconnected to Markadonatos’ case. Whether or not the fee would have been waived if an innocent arrestee had sued is unclear, but it appears as if the fee will remain intact for future arrestees within the village.