Often, people who are convicted of a criminal offense are ordered to do “community service.” It may be part of their sentence in addition to serving time in jail and/or paying a fine. Sometimes, an attorney can negotiate with prosecutors for a person to do community service instead of going to jail and/or paying fines.
Community service is monitored by the court. People have to maintain records of the hours they put in signed by those supervising them. They have to complete the number of hours ordered by the court.
Many people think of community service as unpleasant tasks like picking up trash on the side of the road. Community service isn’t meant to be fun. It is a form of punishment. It’s also supposed to benefit the community in some way. While some judges have been known to assign specific community service tasks to publicly shame people, that’s really not the purpose of it.
Depending on what type of crime you are being sentenced for, you may have a number of options — some of which may help you feel better about yourself at a time when your self-esteem needs a boost. For example, here in Denver, Habitat for Humanity allows some people to perform their court-ordered community service work in their ReStores. However, people convicted of crimes involving “theft, aggression, or adult crimes involving minors” are not eligible.
Community service sentences can run in to hundreds of hours. Even a couple of weeks of community service is a long time if you’re doing something that makes you miserable. Therefore, if community service is on the table or you’ve already been sentenced to community service, it’s wise to talk with your attorney about your options so that you (and others) can get something positive from it.