July 3, 2019, Michael Tanenbaum - The Philadelphia Inquirer
A new policy implemented by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner will eliminate fines and fees for indigent defendants, placing a greater focus on ensuring payment of restitution in cases involving victims.
The District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that various court-related fines and fees will not be assessed to defendants who meet certain criteria.
"Today, Philadelphia is a giant leap closer to a truly fair and consistent system of justice in which low-income defendants do not face additional punishment by way of unaffordable fines and fees that drive them deeper into debt and poverty," Krasner said in a statement.
The current system requires defendants to pay fees such as the court-mandated booking center fee ($175), judicial computer project fee ($12), Commonwealth costs ($20.30), costs of prosecution ($50), county court costs ($29.85), state court costs ($13.55), monthly offender supervision fees (minimum $25) and fees associated with the particular crimes in question.
Under the new policy, indigent defendants would avoid those fees if they establish the following:
Be represented by the public defender, court-appointed counsel, pro bono counsel, or any free legal services organization
Receive means-based public assistance
Have an income at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
Provide evidence showing that they are indigent