Courts often issue community service hours as part of the conditions set in a criminal case. If you are required to complete community service hours for your case, it is important to complete these hours on time and in totality. Doing court-ordered community service can seem daunting, pointless, or cause you anxiety. However, completing your hours does not need to be a chore. It is always best to start your hours as soon as possible and completing them at an organization that is meaningful to you will help you get more out of the experience and feel less resentful about it.
Completing these service hours quickly and successfully is crucial for your case. Unfortunately, we often see people make simple mistakes that can cause delays or repercussions in their criminal case. If you must complete court-ordered community service hours, we recommend avoiding these 4 common mistakes:
- Waiting too long to start your community service hours
The first step to completing your hours is finding a non-profit organization to apply to. This process can often take longer than you may expect it to. While there are plenty of non-profits out there looking for volunteers, not all of them accept court-ordered community service or a volunteer who has been charged with a crime. More well-known organizations may have a long waitlist for volunteer opportunities, or the hours they can offer may be scheduled far out. You will also want to cast a wide net and apply to multiple non-profits in case some end up not having hours, not accepting your court-ordered hours, or do not have timeslots that fit your schedule.
Finding an approved organization that can accept your hours, and that offers timeslots that fit within your schedule, can take longer than you think. The courts will set a deadline to complete the hours by, though the number of hours assigned and the time limit to complete them varies from case to case. Start looking into volunteer opportunities as soon as possible to ease your stress and avoid a major delay in just getting started.
- Doing community service hours at an organization that is not accepted by the courts
The types of accepted non-profit organizations vary from court to court. For example, some courts will accept community service hours completed at a church, while other courts will not. It is important to verify that your chosen organization will be accepted before completing your hours with them. If you are unsure whether your selected non-profit organization qualifies, we recommend contacting your attorney. They should be able to verify if the selected organization will be accepted and can provide guidance if it will not. You can also contact the probation department or court clerk, and they should be able to answer your questions as well.
- Not recording your community service hours correctly
Courts differ in how they require your hours to be recorded, and how the proof of completed community service hours needs to be formatted. Most courts require written proof on the letterhead of the non-profit organization, with the dates and hours completed, a brief description of what you did, and the total number of hours completed. Check with the court to see if they have a specific format they require or accept. Some courts have a pre-made form for an organization to fill out, and other courts are more flexible with the type of proof they accept. We recommend talking to your attorney or the court clerk to verify that you are submitting the correct format for proof that you completed your hours.
- Giving up
If you get behind in your hours and are running out of time, you may start to feel hopeless and want to give up on completing the hours altogether. It is important to remember that doing something is better than doing nothing. If you show the court that you are trying to get the hours completed and that you just need more time, your attorney may be able to get your deadline extended so you can get back into compliance. If the court sets a review hearing because you missed your deadline, try to get all or as many hours as possible completed before that hearing to show the Judge that you are complying with the conditions set in your case.
Contact Us Represent You in Your Criminal Case
We recommend hiring a private attorney to assist you through this process and ensure that you are not missing any deadlines, that you provide the correct type of proof, and that you complete the community service hours successfully at an accepted organization. Call us at (425) 224-7075. We will listen to you, answer your questions, ease your stress, and represent you in your case.
Owner and principal attorney Lance Fryrear of The Law Offices of Lance Fryrear has defended the accused in Lynnwood and throughout Washington for the past 20 years. We will be sensitive and careful every step of the way, doing everything we can to help and support you.
Give us a call at (425) 224-7075 to learn more!