Probation in Allegheny County

Although probation is seen as an alternative to incarceration, it has become a driver of incarceration. Forty percent of people in the Allegheny County Jail are incarcerated because of probation …

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Lopez

Issue Whether Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 706(C) requires a trial court to consider a defendant’s ability to pay prior to imposing mandatory court costs at sentencing. Pa.R.Crim.P. 706(C) reads: “The court, …

Personal Narrative: Lance

Lance's New York driver's license was suspended in 1993 and remained suspended for the duration of his incarceration. The court costs and other fines and fees accrued during this time. After his release from prison in Pennsylvania, he moved home with his wife and together, the two of them worked to pay off the fines. Lance was only working minimum wage when he first came home, making an already arduous process that much slower and even more tedious.

Personal Narrative: Joseph

Joseph's involvement with law enforcement that led to a suspended license was the result of a DUI for smoking marijuana in 2014. Five years later, his license has still not been reinstated.

Commonwealth v. Smetana

Appellant was held in contempt and incarcerated for failure to pay his court fines and fees without any inquiry into his ability to pay. The appellant mentioned that his sibling may be able to pay, but no further inquiry was made by the court. He was sentenced to thirty days imprisonment with credit for time served and a $200 fee to purge the contempt.