The legal system has lofty goals, with providing everyone a fair trial and ensuring justice is served among the items that top this list. The legal system attracts many good, honest people who dedicate their lives to carrying out this important work – judges, police officers, and prosecutors among them. However, as anyone who has so much as attempted to pay a speeding ticket can attest, the legal system in our country is also horribly flawed and completely overwhelmed.
Frequently the shortcomings of the criminal justice system can lead to unfair outcomes for the accused. In Pennsylvania, a recent audit revealed judges in Washington County had been routinely misusing a program designed to help defendants who cannot pay court fees and fines. This hints at the incompetence that can, unfortunately, be a factor in the outcomes of many cases – and it is also a major reason anyone caught up in the justice system needs an experienced legal advocate on their side.
Misuse of Alternative Sentencing Program
In Pennsylvania, defendants without financial resources have other options available to them through the Alternative Sentencing Program. When the system works correctly, defendants who cannot afford court fees and fines can complete community service instead. The court must first hold a hearing to determine a defendant's ability to pay, but judges regularly disregard this.
“Judges are waiving penalties, often for defendants who work full-time or have other means of paying for their fees, leaving taxpayers short-changed,” Pennsylvania Auditor General Timothy DeFoor said.
The Alternative Sentencing Program only works when used as intended, and that has not been the case in Washington County. According to DeFoor, an audit showed misuse of the Alternative Sentencing Program caused more than $500,000 in court fees and fines to remain uncollected.
The judges may have good intentions, but their actions offer a glimpse at the general malfeasance and lax policies present at every level in the criminal justice system. These types of slipups can easily catch a defendant off guard – and can also, unfortunately, have a significant impact on the outcome of their case and their future. That's why anyone facing criminal charges in the state of Pennsylvania needs the expert guidance of a skilled and compassionate attorney.
You Need a Strong Defense Attorney on Your Side
If you've been accused of a crime in Pennsylvania, you have a right to counsel. When you're facing criminal charges, it is essential to know your rights – as well as the inner workings of the criminal justice system. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is tenacious in ensuring the interests of the accused are paramount at every step in the process, and he knows how to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. It's time to put the Lento Law Firm to work for you. Call 888-535-3686 today.