If you have been charged with a low-level misdemeanor, you may be eligible for a number of incarceration alternatives, which could include community service. Not everyone is eligible for these opportunities, which is why you should speak with a Vista alternative sentencing lawyer if you are hoping to perform community service as part of your sentence.
What is Community Service?
Community service is one of many programs known as alternative sentencing, in other words, a sentence that allows for penalties other than incarceration in jail. In San Diego, your Vista defense lawyer may enter be able to negotiate a plea bargain for you to perform community service for many misdemeanors such as petty theft, minor vandalism, battery, trespassing and minor in possession of alcohol. Some misdemeanors like DUI now require community service as a sentence.
Who Decides What Community Service I Perform?
Community service is of two types. Public work service is run by the probation department and typically involves picking up trash or cleaning graffiti. Volunteer work is where the defendant picks any non-profit agency and volunteers time to whatever the agency needs. For people with physical impairments preventing them or limiting their ability to do physical labor, public work service days can be exchanged for volunteer hours.
The amount of public work or volunteer hours depends on whether the court orders a certain amount or the plea agreement between the prosecutor and defense lawyer requires a set number. Often even when the court’s sentencing guidelines require public work service days, the amount is negotiable and sometimes counseling or rehabilitation can substitute for them.
As the jails become overcrowded, the courts use alternatives to custody like house arrest, rehabilitation programs, counseling and community service more and more frequently. Prosecutors and judges can be persuaded to use these alternatives to jail better serve the community and the client.
Community Service Fees
If you are sentenced to community service, you will likely have to pay additional fees on top of the other fees you were sentenced to pay. That’s because these programs often charge administrative fees. Fulfilling your community service obligations is mandatory and you must pay the fee in order to complete your community service. In some cases, you may be eligible for a free or discounted fee. Failing to complete your community service or paying the fee will require you to appear in court and you may be sentenced to jail time, probation or both. Your Vista probation attorney can help defend you at this hearing and you may be able to avoid additional sentencing if you can show a valid reason for missing your community service such as a medical emergency.
If you are interested in learning more about court-ordered community service, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation with Vista criminal attorney Peter M. Liss.