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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 23, 2016 12:36 PM
From: Representative Tedd C. Nesbit
To: All House members
Subject: Juvenile Summary Offenses Enforcement
I plan to reintroduce legislation (Prior HB 2153) that will clarify existing law and instruct the courts in the enforcement of sentences for summary offenses against juveniles. This bill was prepared at the request of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and the Juvenile Court Judges Commission.

The need for the legislation became apparent with a change in the court of common pleas computer system. The system, called the Common Pleas Case Management System (CPCMS), was modified approximately a year ago to include a “delinquency module,” which means that juvenile courts are now using the same system as the courts of common pleas. Under the new computer system, the failure of a juvenile to comply with a sentence arising from a summary conviction - typically, failing to pay a fine – could not be listed as a “chargeable offense.” Due to some statutory ambiguities, a number of judges and administrators were of the opinion that they lacked the authority to simply create the necessary “chargeable offense” within the system. Specifically, it was not sufficiently clear that failure to pay the fine was a separate offense, in the nature of a contempt; nor was it sufficiently clear that this alleged contempt was within the ambit of a “delinquent act,” which triggers the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. This bill addresses the issue by clarifying both points.

Juvenile courts have the expertise and tools to deal effectively and positively with minors in the court system. To that end, the Juvenile Court Judges Commission explains that it is important that these cases be certifiable to juvenile court not just to enforce the judgment of the magisterial district court, but also so that the court can determine whether a different sentence would be more appropriate (community service rather than a fine, for instance) and whether there may be more serious issues at play.

Please note that this bill does not substantively change the law, but rather clarifies an ambiguity that was exposed by a change in the processing of these cases.

Introduced as HB159