Many Florida residents perceive community service as getting away lightly when convicted on a criminal charge, but this can easily be flawed thinking. Community service in lieu of jail time or a significant fine is a serious issue with the court, and all attorneys know it. The problem is that judges are also politicians of sorts and often very concerned about public opinion, which results in prosecutors being reluctant to allow this form of punishment.
Why the court allows community service
There are several advantages for the court system in ordering community service as a deferred prosecution option in a criminal law case. Deferred prosecution actually is the best option when it can be negotiated, usually based on the material evidence the state is using, and community service can be the answer. What actually happened at a crime scene matters to the court, and appropriate punishment is always the court’s goal.
Fulfilling court-ordered duty
Criminal law attorneys understand that many times a community service assignment will often be specific and connected to the type of crime in some manner. This is usually the arrangement with drug crimes and other types of activity that the court wants to reduce as much as possible. However, it can be awarded in lieu of a fine when the defendant has limited means to pay the required amount. Some fines are set in law and courts have little authority to negotiate downward. The answer is to allow defendants to work the fine off in community service when the government or non-profit agencies are acceptable to the arrangement.
It is vital for all defendants to fulfill these community service instructions because failure can result in a contempt of court charge in egregious violations. Automatic contempt of court convictions could carry 30 days or more of incarceration depending on the situation.