A Guide to Community Service as a Punishment in NSW

Information on this page was reviewed by a specialist defence lawyer before being published. Click to read more.
Community service

If you are found guilty of a criminal offence, there are a number of different forms of punishment in NSW.

Depending on the nature and severity of the offence, you could be given a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order and avoid conviction, be given a good behaviour bond, be required to pay fines, or face a term in prison.

Community service is a common penalty for criminal offences in NSW, and there are certain conditions attached.

What is community service?

Community service refers to undertaking work for the benefit of the community as a punishment for an offence you have committed.

Generally a sentence of community service is given out by the number of hours, which can be anything up to 500, depending on the offence.

Some things you may be required to undertake when under a community service order include removal of graffiti, working on environmental projects, and other forms of work in the community.

Who is eligible for community service?

In order to be considered eligible for a community service order, there are a number of requirements that you must fulfil.

You must be considered an appropriate person to undertake community service work, and it must be an appropriate punishment for you given the nature of the offence.

Community service as a punishment in NSW cannot be given in conjunction with a good behaviour bond.

When deciding whether you are eligible for a community service order, the judge or magistrate will evaluate any reports from parole officers or other assessments regarding your suitability to work in the community.

As well as ensuring you are eligible for community service, the court has to ascertain that you have access to appropriate community service arrangements in the area in which you reside.

What are the conditions of community service?

To participate in a community service program, there are a number of regulations that you will need to abide by. These can include:

  • Participating in the community service work at specific designated times.
  • Following instructions from a nominated supervisor.
  • Not turning up to do community service while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Undertaking the requested work to a required standard.
  • Keeping any tools or clothing issued to you in reasonable condition.
  • Maintaining a required standard of personal hygiene and dress.
  • Adhering to required safety standards and procedures while working.
  • Agreeing to consent to medical examination if required.
  • Providing a medical certificate if unable to work due to illness.

A community service order lasts until the required number of hours are complete, or the work is finished.

What happens if I breach the terms of my community service order?

If you breach the terms of your community service order, it can be revoked and an alternative sentence can be made.

There are a number of additional forms of punishment in NSW that may be considered appropriate, depending on the severity of your offence, and how many hours you served on your community service order before the breach occurred.

The courts generally take breaches of community service orders seriously, and the penalty you are issued if your community service order is revoked may be harsher than the original penalty for the offence.

If you are unsure about your community service order or require more information about any other punishment in NSW, a criminal lawyer can help.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence and you are facing harsh penalties, a good defence lawyer may be able to help increase your chances of receiving a less severe penalty like community service instead.

Last updated on

Receive all of our articles weekly


Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

Your Opinion Matters