HARRISBURG – State Senator David G. Argall (R-29) today supported a measure requiring defendants found guilty by a jury in a criminal case to pay the court costs associated with their prosecution. The measure was unanimously approved by the Senate, 50-0.
Senate Bill 1169, introduced by Senator Mike Waugh (R-York), requires judges to impose court costs. Should the judge fail to order the payment of costs, Senate Bill 1169 contains a provision in which costs would still be imposed upon the defendant and no court order would be required.
The legislation stems from the 1995 multi-county murder spree involving Mark Spotz. Spotz is currently on death row following the killing of his brother and three women, including June R. Ohlinger of Wayne Township, Schuylkill County.
“Many district residents have expressed outrage that someone could do something so heinous and not be held responsible for these costs,” Argall said. “I am thankful we have taken action to ensure that criminals are forced to repay these court costs regardless of whether or not a court order has been imposed.”
Spotz filed suit against the Commonwealth for deducting 20 percent of the money coming into his inmate account to pay the costs of his prosecution – which was over $14,000. Spotz claimed that the trial’s court sentencing order did not include any specific language assessing fines, costs or restitution.
Act 84 of 1998 provided for such deductions, but in their ruling on the Spotz case, the Commonwealth Court held that Act 84 required the court to specifically impose these costs through an order. The Commonwealth Court further held that the inmate could potentially seek repayment of money already paid.
Senate Bill 1169 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Contact: Nick Troutman