I am positive I've heard of "charges levied," as in "criminal charges brought against" (e.g. the sentence "The charge levied against my client is unfounded.").

However, while searching for a synonym for the word, I find no definition of 'levy' that matches the way it's used in the phrase 'charges levied.' I mean, 'imposed' is close, but that seems mostly to imply taxes being levied; I'd never say "charges imposed;' and when I search for "charges levied," I end up getting mostly charges-as-in-fines levied, not charges-as-in-legal-charges levied.

So, is "charges levied" in a legal sense an actual phrase, or did my mind just invent it upon hearing a very similar phrase?

  • 1
    The usage is not technically incorrect, and certainly might be used informally. The usage is well within the "imposed" sense of the word.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 29 '15 at 12:37

You are correct that it's wrong.

It's a mistake caused by confusion between the set phrases

  • charges leveled


  • penalties/fees levied.

This might come from misconstruing a criminal charge as a monetary charge (fee).

  • 1
    I think saying this (long-established) usage is "wrong" is like saying only one or the other of Ripe/Rife with Opportunity is "correct". Different people may favour one or the other usage; that doesn't imply either are right or wrong. Dec 15 '15 at 18:46

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