Several judicial systems, at the state or local level, make use of private collection agencies to recover civil or criminal fees, fines, and costs owed the court. Pennsylvania is one such state and has, at least since 1996, a provision allowing for such private collection agencies to recover the debt owed in criminal cases (42 Pa.C.S. § 9730.1). However, the same 1996 act put limitations on collections:
(c) LIMITATIONS ON PRIVATE COLLECTION AGENCIES.– For the purposes of this section, a private collection agency shall cease its efforts designed to collect fines, costs and restitution and so inform the court or the county commissioners upon the occurrence of any of the following:
(1) the private collection agency considers the amount owing noncollectible;
(2) a period of 180 days has elapsed since referral of the amount owing to the private collection agency and there has been no response by the defendant or collection of moneys; or
(3) upon demand of a judge of the court of common pleas having jurisdiction over the defendant.
HB 61 of 2011, however would extend the 180 day period to 48 months, making it easier for the debts to be collected. That time expansion was approved earlier today by the House Judiciary Committee on a 23-0 vote.