PRINTER'S NO. 248
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
254
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY STREET, MUTH, KEARNEY, CAPPELLETTI, TARTAGLIONE,
COSTA AND KANE, FEBRUARY 22, 2021
REFERRED TO JUDICIARY, FEBRUARY 22, 2021
AN ACT
Amending Titles 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) and 75
(Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in
sentencing, further providing for payment of court costs,
restitution and fines, for fine and for failure to pay fine;
in licensing of drivers, further providing for suspension of
operating privilege for failure to respond to citation; and,
in penalties and disposition of fines, further providing for
inability to pay fine and costs.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Section 9730(b) of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes, amended December 18, 2019 (P.L.776,
No.115), is amended to read:
§ 9730. Payment of court costs, restitution and fines.
* * *
(b) Procedures regarding default.--
(1) If a defendant defaults in the payment of court
costs, restitution or fines after imposition of sentence, the
issuing authority or a senior judge or senior magisterial
district judge appointed by the president judge for the
purposes of this section [may] shall conduct a hearing to
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determine whether the defendant is financially able to pay.
(2) If the issuing authority, senior judge or senior
magisterial district judge determines that the defendant is
financially able to pay the costs, restitution or fine, the
issuing authority, senior judge or senior magisterial
district judge may enter an order for wage attachment, turn
the delinquent account over to a private collection agency or
impose imprisonment for nonpayment, as provided by law.
(3) If the issuing authority, senior judge or senior
magisterial district judge determines that the defendant is
without the financial means to pay the costs, restitution or
fine immediately or in a single remittance without causing
manifest hardship to the defendant as defined in paragraph
(5), the issuing authority, senior judge or senior
magisterial district judge [may] shall provide for payment in
installments. In determining the appropriate installments,
the issuing authority, senior judge or senior magisterial
district judge shall [consider the defendant's financial
resources, the defendant's ability to make restitution and
reparations and the nature of the burden the payment will
impose on the defendant] assign an installment payment for
the costs, restitution or fine that complies with the
requirements under section 9758(b) (relating to fine). If the
defendant is in default of a payment or advises the issuing
authority, senior judge or senior magisterial district judge
that default is imminent, the issuing authority, senior judge
or senior magisterial district judge may schedule a rehearing
on the payment schedule. At the rehearing the defendant has
the burden of proving [changes of financial condition such
that the defendant is without the means to meet the payment
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schedule] that the payments are causing the defendant
manifest hardship. The issuing authority, senior judge or
senior magisterial district judge [may extend or accelerate
the schedule, leave it unaltered] shall extend the
installment payment time limitation or sentence the defendant
to a period of community service as the issuing authority,
senior judge or senior magisterial district judge finds to be
just and practicable under the circumstances.
(4) A decision of the issuing authority, senior judge or
senior magisterial district judge under paragraph (2) or (3)
is subject to section 5105 (relating to right to appellate
review).
(5) A defendant shall be considered to experience
manifest hardship if any of the following apply:
(i) The defendant is involuntarily unemployed and
has assets less than 200% of the Federal poverty level.
(ii) The defendant's household income and assets are
less than 200% of the Federal poverty level.
(iii) The defendant is receiving any kind of public
assistance.
(iv) The defendant presents evidence to the judge
during the hearing that would cause a reasonable person
to believe paying the full amount of the penalty would
cause manifest hardship to the defendant or their
dependents.
(v) The defendant is unable to afford to meet the
defendant's basic life needs, including food, rent or
mortgage payments, utilities, medical expenses,
transportation and dependent care.
Section 2. Sections 9758(b) and (c) and 9772 of Title 42 are
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amended to read:
§ 9758. Fine.
* * *
(b) Installment payment.--
(1) Except for fines imposed under Title 34 (relating to
game), the court may permit installment payments as it
considers appropriate to the circumstances of the defendant,
in which case its order shall specify when each installment
payment is due. Installment payments for fines imposed for
summary offenses under Title 34 shall not exceed one year for
summary offenses and, except for 34 Pa.C.S. § 2522 (relating
to shooting at or causing injury to human beings), shall not
exceed two years for misdemeanor offenses.
(2) The following shall apply to installment payments
permitted under this subsection:
(i) A defendant whose household income is less than
or equal to 125% of the Federal poverty level may not be
required to make payments until the defendant's income is
more than 125% of the Federal poverty level.
(ii) A defendant whose household income is more than
125% but less than 150% of the Federal poverty level may
not be required to make monthly installment payments that
exceed two times the hourly minimum wage for the
locality.
(iii) A defendant whose household income is equal to
or more than 150% but less than 175% of the Federal
poverty level may not be required to make monthly
installment payments that exceed three times the hourly
minimum wage for the locality.
(iv) A defendant whose household income is greater
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than or equal to 175% but less than 185% of the Federal
poverty level may not be required to make monthly
installment payments that exceed four times the hourly
minimum wage for the locality.
(v) A defendant whose household income is greater
than or equal to 185% but less than 200% of the Federal
poverty level may not be required to make monthly
installment plans that exceed five times the hourly
minimum wage for the locality.
(vi) If a defendant's household income is equal to
or more than 200% of the Federal poverty level, the
court, issuing authority, senior judge or senior
magisterial district judge shall consider the evidence
presented and set a payment plan that would not impose
what a reasonable person would consider manifest hardship
to the defendant or the defendant's dependents.
(vii) A court, issuing authority, senior judge or
senior magisterial district judge may deviate from the
maximum monthly payment plans under this paragraph only
if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence presented
at the hearing that the defendant has the present ability
to pay a higher amount per month without experiencing a
manifest hardship.
(c) Alternative sentence.--The sentence of the court may
include an alternative sentence in the event of nonpayment. A
person sentenced to community service under this subsection
shall be assigned a minimum of one hour of service for each $20
of the unpaid balance of the fine and costs.
§ 9772. Failure to pay fine.
[Unless there is proof that failure to pay a fine or that
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portion of the fine that is due is excusable] Unless the court
finds that a defendant is financially able to pay a fine or a
portion of the fine that is due without causing the defendant
manifest hardship, the court may after a hearing find the
defendant guilty of contempt and sentence him to not more than
six months imprisonment, if a term of confinement of that amount
could have been imposed for the offense charged. If an
alternative sentence has been imposed under section 9758(c)
(relating to alternative sentence), the alternative sentence may
not take effect until there has been a preliminary finding of
non-indigency, and a willful failure to pay the fine.
Section 3. Sections 1533(a) and (b) and 6504 of Title 75 are
amended to read:
§ 1533. Suspension of operating privilege for failure to
respond to citation.
(a) Violations within Commonwealth.--The department shall
suspend the operating privilege of any person who has failed to
respond to a citation or summons to appear before an issuing
authority or a court of competent jurisdiction of this
Commonwealth for any violation of this title, other than
parking, or who has failed to pay any fine, costs or restitution
imposed by an issuing authority or such courts for violation of
this title, other than parking, upon being duly notified by an
issuing authority or a court of this Commonwealth. An issuing
authority or court shall notify the department that a person has
failed to pay any fine, costs or restitution only after making a
preliminary finding of non-indigency and a willful failure to
pay without causing manifest hardship.
(b) Violations outside Commonwealth.--The department shall
suspend the operating privilege of any person who has failed to
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respond to a citation, summons or similar writ to appear before
a court of competent jurisdiction of the United States or any
state which has entered into an enforcement agreement with the
department, as authorized under section 6146 (relating to
enforcement agreements), for any violation of the motor vehicle
laws of such state, other than parking, or who has failed to pay
any fine or costs imposed by such court upon being duly notified
in accordance with the laws of such jurisdiction in which the
violation occurred. A person who provides proof, satisfactory to
the department, that the full amount of the fine and costs has
been forwarded to and received by the court shall not be
regarded as having failed to respond for the purposes of this
subsection. The department may not suspend the operating
privilege of a person who has failed to pay a fine or costs
unless an issuing authority or court has first made a
preliminary finding of non-indigency and a willful failure to
pay without causing manifest hardship.
* * *
§ 6504. Inability to pay fine and costs.
(a) Order for installment payments.--Upon plea and proof
that a person is unable to pay any fine and costs imposed under
this title, a court may, in accordance with 42 Pa.C.S. § 9758
(relating to fine), order payment of the fine and costs in
installments and shall fix the amounts, times and manner of
payment.
(b) Imprisonment for nonpayment.--Any person who is found
able to pay but does not comply with an order entered under this
section may be imprisoned for a number of days equal to one day
for each $40 of the unpaid balance of the fine and costs.
(c) Alternative sentence.--A person who is found to have a
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manifest hardship as provided in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9730 (relating to
payment of court costs, restitution and fines) may be sentenced
to community service in the amount of one hour for every $20 of
the unpaid balance of the fine.
Section 4. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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