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Westmoreland County court system to begin accepting bail online

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Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Defendants in Westmoreland County Prison will soon be able to get out of jail by using the Internet to post bail.

Clerk of Courts Bryan Kline said his office will begin processing the online payments in December.

“This will bring the court system into the 21st century,” he said.

Bail now must be posted in person at the county courthouse in Greensburg by family members, friends or others acting on behalf of an accused suspect held in the prison in Hempfield.

Kline said the new system, tested this year in Chester and Delaware counties, will allow electronic payments through the clerk of courts page on the Westmoreland County website.

The office already accepts online payments for filing fees, fines and restitution.

A person still must go to the clerk's office to post bail through other securities, such as property, Kline said.

Bail of up to $20,000 can be posted in one transaction. Kline said bails that exceed $20,000 will have to be made in several transactions.

Bails that are put up by professional bondsmen still will require the poster to go to the courthouse to complete associated paperwork, Kline said.

The county will charge $2.75 for each bail payment. “This system will make it easier on the staff, and it will save money,” Kline said.

“This will reduce transportation cost; the Sheriff's Office will no longer have to transport the prisoner to the courthouse or magistrate's office. Once the bail payment is made, the paperwork will be automatically generated for signature,” he said.

His office last year processed 704 bail payments.

Through October, the office received 555 bail payments from defendants who were released from the prison to await disposition of criminal cases in court.

Kline said online bail payments will be reviewed to ensure that postings are correctly made and any other conditions are met before defendants can be released from jail.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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