Commission Joins Other Stakeholders in Submitting to PA Supreme Court Proposed Amendments to Statewide Rules Governing Courts’ Collection of Fines/Costs from Defendants

On January 31, 2023, the Commission joined Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (“PMC”) and the ACLU-PA in submitting a jointly-drafted letter to the PA Supreme Court Criminal Procedural Rules Committee, urging the Rules Committee to adopt rules responsive to Act 163, which was signed into law by former Governor Wolf in November 2022. Act 163 makes several changes to courts’ powers to collect fines, costs and restitution from defendants. Among other things, Act 163 gives courts explicit authority to reduce or waive nearly all fines and costs when the court finds that the defendant is unable to pay them. Therefore, in the letter, the Commission joined PMC and the ACLU-PA in proposing amendments to statewide criminal procedural rules that would ensure the rules are consistent with Act 163’s new statutory provisions. The proposed amendments are intended to clarify courts’ power to collect debt from those who can pay, while also allowing courts to end wasteful and fruitless collection efforts for those who cannot.