Delaware County Courts Issues Order Significantly Reducing Bail Administrative Fees

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Released: July 28, 2023

Rule change the latest step taken to improve the County's criminal justice system

Delaware County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Linda A. Cartisano has issued an administrative order that significantly reduces the bail administration fee — the portion of an individual’s posted bail that is retained as a fee and not returned to the individual at the conclusion of their case — for all Delaware County defendants.

Prior to the change, issued on July 24, 2023, Delaware County’s 40% bail retention fee was one of the highest fee rates among Pennsylvania counties. A person accused of a crime with a cash bail amount of $10,000, and who was required to post 10% to remain out of jail while their case was pending, would have previously needed to pay $400 in administration fees (40% of the $1,000 posted). This fee imposed a heavy burden on many individuals and families.

The new rule, effective twenty days from the date of the order, imposes a flat fee of $25 plus 3% of the first $1,000 of bail posted and 2% of any amount above $1,000. Now, a defendant who is issued a $10,000 bail, and who will be required to post 10% to stay out of jail pre-trial, will pay just $55 in administration fees: $25 + 3% of the $1,000 posted. This greatly eases the financial burden and will allow individuals to keep significantly more of the bail money posted.

The decision to reduce the bail fee was accomplished through the thoughtful and considered actions of many stakeholders. Delaware County Council unanimously approved a recommendation to adopt the new rule. The Delaware County Criminal Justice Advisory Board, led by the Honorable John Capuzzi, Sr, unanimously approved the adoption of the rule. The Honorable Linda Cartisano issued the administrative order effecting this important change.

“This rule change will have a real and practical benefit for many in Delaware County who are involved in the criminal justice system,” said Delaware County Councilman Kevin Madden. “A disproportionate number of people in the criminal justice system are low-income. We should not be incarcerating based on who can or cannot afford to walk away from 40% of their posted bail. I am grateful to President Judge Cartisano for supporting this important change to the administration of justice in Delaware County.”

With the rule change, Delaware County’s bail administration fee is now in line with most other counties in the Commonwealth.

“We applaud President Judge Cartisano, County Council, and the Criminal Justice Advisory Board for working together to change this policy that disproportionality impacted our clients and their families,” said Delaware County Public Defender’s Office First Assistant Lee Awbrey. “Bail is not supposed to be a punishment or a tax. A grandmother posting $1,000 to keep her grandchild out of jail before trial should not get only $600 back when the case is over. This is an example of good government at work.”

“The change in the bail fee may not make headlines, but it is a superb example of our elected officials working together to solve a problem,” said District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer. “County Council, President Judge Cartisano, and the members of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board all recognized the disproportionate impact the previous fee structure had on indigent defendants. In substantially reducing those fees, Delaware County officials have taken a step that aligns its values with its practices. Everyone who contributed to this important change should be congratulated on this important step.”

The rule change reducing the Delaware County bail administration fee represents one more step in the process to improve the county criminal justice system to provide for the fair administration of justice.

County Council will continue working with our partners and stakeholders to bring beneficial reforms to the criminal justice system to ensure fair, efficient, and equitable treatment of individuals and their families.

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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.

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