February 25, 2014

PA Courts Distribute $455 Million In 2013, State Receives $207 Million

Pennsylvania’s courts distributed more than $455 million in fees, fines, costs and restitution in 2013. Most of the money was received by the state, local governments and victims of crime; a small portion of the money collected was distributed to various entities such as schools, libraries and tax agencies.
“The judiciary’s first priority is the fair and timely administration of justice, but after cases are adjudicated, it is important to enforce the collection of court-ordered fees, fines, costs and restitution,” said Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille. “We continue to enhance court collections by working closely with the local officials responsible for collecting the money and through the development of new technology such as PAePay.”
PAePay is an application that allows defendants to conveniently make payments via the Internet with a debit or credit card. A record $62 million in court fees, fines, costs and restitution was collected through PAePay in 2013.
“By providing this convenient way to settle court-ordered payments, defendants can avoid facing arrest, contempt of court proceedings, driver’s license suspensions and/or additional collection agency fees,” Chief Justice Castille said.
The state received $207 million of the total $455 million collected by the courts. Counties received $156.7 million and municipalities $51.3 million to support local government programs. Crime victims received a total of $35.3 million in restitution, and various entities received $4.3 million. (See court distribution tables)
In addition to PAePay, the Pennsylvania’s court case management systems provide several features to improve collections. Among those are the ability to generate customized court payment delinquency letters and to share information with PennDOT for suspension of the driver’s licenses of defendants failing to pay court costs related to traffic violations.
The case management systems also have the ability share defendant case financial data with outside collection agencies, which are currently used by 37 counties.
The money distributed to support government programs and crime victims came from fees, fines, costs and restitution collected by 533 magisterial district courts and the criminal divisions of the 67 Common Pleas courts and Philadelphia Municipal Court.
It excluded money collected from civil cases processed by Pennsylvania’s Common Pleas courts and cases processed by the Traffic Division of Philadelphia Municipal Court. These courts have yet to be integrated on a statewide case management system.