The fine, and court costs, seem pretty high – are they legal?

I live in a small town of nearly 1200. A judge comes in once a week to hold court. He earns $200 each session. A young couple was charged for not having a dog tag. The fine was $85 court costs and $25 for no tag. A dog tag only costs $5 if purchased in January. Is the fine legal? If not what recourse can the couple take?

The answer to this question is likely “yes,” this is a legal approach although the amount of the ticket may seem excessive to the young couple. In fact, a fine of $25 sounds like a pretty standard fine. The fine can increase, however, for subsequent violations.

Municipalities are generally free to set a reasonable fine schedule for animal tag violations. Ordinances may also differ somewhat based on the municipality.

The court costs also sound roughly on par with the amount assessed in many municipalities. In fact, court costs are often the bulk of a ticket.

If the dog was impounded, that could add to the costs and even add to the charges as a “dog at large.”

It may not hurt for the couple to visit with the prosecutor about their options. However, if a conviction already exists, there is probably not much legal recourse the couple can seek other than paying the fine.