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Judges May Order Community Service as Part of a Sentence

Community service, occasionally known in the legal world as community restitution, is a type of punishment in criminal law levied with the intent to benefit a community that has somehow been harmed by an offender. Judges typically order community service in addition to other forms of punishment, including fines, probation and/or imprisonment.

Community service may occasionally be ordered as a standalone sentence for various minor crimes. However, it is usually unavailable when one has been convicted of a serious offense typically punishable by many years in prison. 

In many cases, the type of community service ordered will have some sort of connection to the crime committed. For example, a judge could order a bank executive who embezzled money to volunteer for an organization in the community. This is seen as an effective and appropriate form of punishment because it works as a deterrent to potential offenders and makes for both a practical and symbolic form of restitution for harm the offender caused.

In substance abuse cases, judges will often require the offender to go through community treatment programs and get involved with local organizations, attending regular meetings and programs for a set period of time.

Judges have significant leeway in the forms of community service they are allowed to order, but they are not allowed to impose any community service that interferes with an offender’s rights to due process. One example of an invalid sentence could be community service involving some form of physical labor that an offender is unable to perform.

If you would like to learn more about the criminal charges against you and how you might defend yourself, consult a skilled Reading criminal defense attorney at David R. Eshelman: A Professional Corporation.

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