What Happens If You Don’t Complete Court-Ordered Community Service?

What Happens If You Don’t Complete Court-Ordered Community Service?

Jane Meggitt
 | 
Community service is not an option for those convicted of serious crimes, but it is used as an alternative form of sentencing for lesser offenses and as a condition of probation. Community service generally involves performing a certain number of unpaid work hours at public or non-profit organizations. The court determines the necessary unpaid labor hours and the time frame for completion.

What happens if you do not complete court-ordered community service depends on various factors, including the jurisdiction. However, it may end up with the court issuing a warrant for your arrest. A law enforcement officer may show up at your door and arrest you. Failure to complete community service spells serious consequences.

Keep in mind that community service is a serious matter, even if it involves picking up garbage or performing other menial tasks. Because community service is offered in lieu of paying fines or serving time in jail, or for a reduction of fines or jail time, not completing your court-ordered community service can mean paying those monies or incarceration. The judge can sentence you to the maximum amount of time you faced as punishment and levy the maximum fines.

Not Showing Up
Failure to show up for mandated community service may result in a call from your probation officer. You might receive another chance to comply with the court’s orders. Continuing to not perform community service could mean your probation officer files a Violation of Probation with the court.

As the defendant, you may receive a notice to appear at a hearing so that the court may determine whether you willfully failed to comply with your community service requirements.
Noncompliance consequences may include:
  • Probation extension –a first-time noncompliant may receive a probation extension if they provide a valid reason for not completing community service. Subsequent noncompliance brings harsher penalties.
  • Probation revocation –if the defendant did not complete community service and offered no legitimate reason for doing so, the judge may revoke their probation. This may mean the judge sentences the defendant to jail.
  • Contempt of court –a judge could find a noncompliant defendant in contempt of court for failure to complete community service. The defendant may face additional fines and jail time.
In some situations, a defendant who cannot pay court costs or fines is offered community service as an option. Needless to say, not completing community service means those fines and costs are reinstated.

Think of it this way. You agreed to perform community service as part of a deal to stay out of jail or receive less jail time. If you do not keep up your end of the bargain, the deal is revoked.

Request an Extension
If you cannot complete your hours within the prescribed time, you may ask the court for an extension. Ask for this extension before your deadline for completing community service, not after the fact. Bring documentation with you to prove your inability to complete your hours is valid. That might include medical records if you were sick or injured.  

If there are issues with the type of community service or transportation to and from the organization affecting sentence completion, you might request referral to another community service project.

Speak With Your Attorney
If you do not complete your community service or know that you will prove unable to do so, speak with your attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you do not have an attorney, obtain one as soon as possible. Courts do not look kindly on those who violate the terms of their probation or parole, which may include community service. You need legal advice. 

 
This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.
Community Service – North Carolina Criminal LawNorth Carolina Criminal Law (unc.edu)
Criminal Court - Alternative Sentencing: Sacramento Superior Court (ca.gov)
Nassau County Bar Association (nassaubar.org)
 
Jane Meggitt

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