Community Service Orders: Benefits Compared to Prison Sentences


If you have committed an offence in NSW you could find yourself liable for a number of potential penalties, including imprisonment, fines and community service orders. The benefits of being sentenced to community service compared to being sentenced to prison are numerous.

If you are eligible for community service, good legal representation can help improve your chances of being given a community service order, and avoiding imprisonment.

Who is eligible for a community service order?

Not everyone is eligible to be given a sentence of community service.

To be eligible for community service, you need to have committed an offence that is punishable by a prison sentence, and you must not be considered likely to pose a risk to the community if you are allowed to do community service.

There are four main eligibility criteria that determine whether or not it is appropriate for you to undertake community service instead of a prison sentence:

  • You must be considered a suitable person to undertake community service work.
  • It should be appropriate under all the circumstances for you to do community service.
  • There are facilities in your area for you to perform community service.
  • It is possible to provide community service work in accordance with the arrangements in your local area and community.

There are a number of factors that can render you ineligible for community service. If you have been found guilty of committing a violent or sexual offence, you are not likely to be considered eligible for community service.

You will also not be considered for a community service order if you are not present at the time of your sentencing, so it is important that you attend court on the specified date.

What are the benefits of undertaking community service?

Being sentenced to a community service order instead of imprisonment can have many benefits for you and your family.

Under the terms of a community service order, you are able to remain in the community residing at your home address or another nominated address.

This means that you can continue to undertake your normal activities, including employment, and you can continue to meet family obligations.

Community service also provides benefits to the local community as a whole as it encourages you to undertake services and duties to help other members of your community.

This can help you develop ties to the community and give you a sense of accomplishment.

In some cases, if drugs or alcohol were contributing factors in the offence you are found guilty of committing, the terms of a community service order may also specify that you participate in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.

Undertaking programs such as these can be of enormous benefit, and can help you get your life back on track and reduce the likelihood of you reoffending.

Compared to spending time in jail, community service is a highly beneficial alternative.

When you are under a community service order, you can still reside at home and continue to meet your family commitments and live a relatively normal life.

If you have been given a community service order it is important that you adhere to the terms and conditions, however, otherwise it could be revoked and a more serious penalty such as a suspended sentence, intensive correction order or even a prison sentence applied instead.


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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, Sydney's leading firm of criminal and traffic defence lawyers.
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