Community service is a common sentence in Louisiana for defendants whom the judge feels could benefit from an experience that involves interaction with the public. This has proven to be a good alternative to incarceration or probation. Judges have significant latitude to impose sentences that are consistent with the level of crime, and community service is one of the most effective alternatives.
When community service is reasonable
Community service is generally considered a light sentence for any conviction, but the responsibilities can be very detailed. Report times and relief times can be designated by the judge after agreement with criminal defense attorneys, and defendants must meet the terms of the order. The time periods of a community service order can also vary, mostly determined by the serious nature of the crime and the actual rehabilitative work performed by the defendant. Community service is indeed intended as a rehabilitation sentence.
Community service is not always the only sentencing handed out, and there can be fines and court costs associated with any case. Merely satisfying the community service requirement is not the whole sentencing. Defendants can also be assessed for unpaid fines until the court-ordered sentence is completed. Community service is commonly ordered as an alternative to incarceration, and additional penalties are not unusual even when community service is allowed.
Individuals with prior criminal convictions typically are not reasonably eligible for community service, but an effective and experienced criminal defense attorney might be able to convince the court that community service is an appropriate punishment in certain cases where the law was broken technically but not necessarily intentionally. It is assuredly a preferred punishment, but criminal defense attorneys may advise their clients that it still carries specific responsibilities.