The collection effort of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania was initiated after the FJD's assumption of the duties and functions of the previously independently elected Clerk of Quarter Sessions which was abolished by City Council in 2010. The Court established the Office of Court Compliance, funded by the City of Philadelphia, to lead the charge in the collection of outstanding court ordered fees, fines, court costs and restitution. The collection of this money benefits the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and victims of crimes both directly, thought the collection of court ordered restitution, as well as indirectly through the collection of funds which are distributed to various governmental entities as provided by law.
Upon assumption of the duties and functions of the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, the FJD has utilized the statewide Common Pleas Case Management System ("CPCMS") to inform defendants about their financial obligations, establish payment plans, record payments made, and to refer cases to private collection agencies upon default of payment plans and failure to attend payment plan conferences or otherwise respond to request for payment of their court ordered obligations.
The description below highlights the process followed by the First Judicial District’s Office of Court Compliance.
Immediately after sentencing, Office of Court Compliance Legal Clerks meet with defendants to establish an appropriate payment plan for the payment of fees, fines, court costs and restitution consistent with the sentencing judge's order. The Legal Clerks also hold conferences when defendants seek reduction of their monthly payment due to a change in financial circumstances, and conduct delinquency conferences when defendants fail to make their monthly installment payments. When appropriate, the monthly amount may be decreased if the defendant demonstrates (upon presenting the necessary information) reduced income or inability to pay the currently established installment amount.
Finally, the FJD refers cases to a private collection agency when defendants fail to pay their outstanding fees, fines, court costs and restitution or fail to appear for scheduled payment plan conferences.. Referral is always preceded by a notice requesting the defendant to contact the Office of Court Compliance to make arrangements to pay their outstanding obligations. Upon referral, the collection agency is responsible for collecting the outstanding fees, fines, costs and restitution and all payments must be made to the collection agency. The defendant is charged a 25% collection fee, as allowed by law, which is paid to the collection agency from each payment made by the Defendant.
The links below provide more detailed information and forms related to the FJD collection effort.