Community service hours are generally given to a defendant in lieu of being sentenced to jail time by a judge presiding over a criminal court of law. These programs have been put in place to lessen the amount of defendants being sent to county jail.
The way the court sees it, everyone makes mistakes. People get into situations that spin out of control or make a poor decision. Rather than packing the jails with more inmates, the legal system uses court ordered community service hours to contribute to society and make amends for mistakes. Some defendants see it as punishment, but it’s actually far better than being incarcerated.
It also represents an opportunity to learn new skills and even learn a bit more about life. This can actually serve as an enrichment tool and even be a way to find steady employment. Court ordered community service gives the defendant the ability to avoid jail, but only if he or she complies with the rules.
The Importance of Completing Court Ordered Community Service Hours
When a person commits a crime, be it a felony or a misdemeanor, they are generally taken to the county jail and processed through the system. If the arraignment judge sets bail, the defendant can secure a surety bond, or bail bond and be set free pending their court date.
In most cases, the bondsman will charge a ten percent fee to issue the bond, and might require collateral, depending on the circumstances. The next thing which happens is the defendant might qualify for what’s known as a “diversion program”.
Judges can sentence defendants to perform unpaid community work called “community service” to repay a debt to society for having committed the offense. The defendant may be required to perform community service in addition to receiving some other form of punishment, such as probation, a fine, or restitution. –Nolo.com
If the defendant meets the guidelines, he or she can be given court ordered community service hours, meaning he or she must work at an approved site for said hours. Hours can range greatly in length, from a dozen or less, to hundreds of hours.
During this time, the defendant stays out of jail, provided he or she complies with the other requirements of his or her release. However, even if the defendant obeys all the other rules, but does not participate or finish his or her community service, he or she can be sent to jail to serve out those hours.
Courts do give a defendant a little latitude, but will issue an arrest warrant and bail revocation if necessary. The defendant might be held without the possibility to bail out or could be given a second chance.
Places to Do Approved Community Service
Once the court orders a defendant to volunteer his or her time, a form is issued to the defendant. It must be signed by an approved staff member of the organization and submitted regularly as scheduled to a probation officer. Failure to comply can mean a defendant will be sent to jail.
It’s a good idea for the defendant to register with an organization early to demonstrate responsibility to the court. Here in Sarasota and Manatee, the courts allow a defendant to fulfill his or her community service time in one of many places. Some of them are: HOPE Family Services, Turning Points, The Salvation Army, Hawethorne Family Medical Center, Palm Beach County Homeless Coalition, Habitat for Humanity, and the Humane Society.
In general, defendants are allowed to perform their court ordered services in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food banks, road cleanup crews, religious organizations and non-profit organizations. However, not every one of these organizations will be an approved volunteer site.
Because deadlines for completion are usually short, a defendant should contact an approved worksite and ask about getting registered. Some will not have “space” available and will not accept more people. In addition, it’s wise to work out a schedule that doesn’t interfere with work as a condition of bail is to maintain employment.
If a loved one or friend you know has been arrested and is currently being held in the Sarasota or the Manatee County jail, and needs a bail bond to get out, contact us immediately. We have a mobile service for your convenience, and also issue federal immigration bonds. We can get your family member or friend out of jail quickly, and, for an affordable price.