Community Service vs Community Labor for Probation Conditions
At the Torrance Courthouse and throughout Los Angeles County, community service and community labor are two different types of public service people can be required to do as a condition of probation. These options are often bargained for by defense attorneys as an alternative to someone spending time in jail.
Most judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys “rank” the severity of potential punishments in this order:
- prison time,
- jail time,
- community labor,
- and community service.
Community labor is considered more severe than community service. However, not every client actually feels that way about these two options, so it is important to understand what each entails here in greater South Bay area. This video above discusses these important differences so that you can know what might be best for yourself or your loved one.
“In Los Angeles County there are a couple of terms that are so familiar to criminal defense attorneys that we use them all the time, and I think sometimes we forget our clients don’t always know what they mean. Those terms are community service and community labor.
They sound similar, and in some ways they are, but there are some important distinctions. And it’s important that when you’re talking about criminal cases and possibly having community service or community labor as part of your probation conditions, that you know there is a difference between the two.
Community service is the less physically taxing of the two options. Community service means kind of what you think it means, but you don’t just get to go to your favorite volunteer organization, sit down, and do your community service. It’s run through specific centers who pick the organizations that you can go work at. Usually it’s things like sweeping floors, helping the organization set up for events. Sometimes it’s folding clothes, or helping with paperwork and filing issues, moving boxes, helping with all of the general things that go into volunteer organizations.
Community labor, on the other hand, is a little more strenuous. It’s a little more serious. And if you’re going to be doing community labor, it’s important that you know that ahead of time. Community labor is sometimes what we used to call Caltrans, which is what you’re thinking of. That’s the orange jumpsuits on the side of the road, picking up trash. Other times, it’s graffiti clean up or beach clean up, and it’s usually more physically taxing.
But when you are doing either community service or community labor as a condition of probation. They’re not interchangeable one for one. Because community service is considered less strenuous, you typically have to do more hours than you would have to do if you did community labor.
I’ve had clients who prefer community service. I’ve had clients who prefer community labor. But it’s important that you at least know that there is a difference between the two, and that’s possibly going to be an important distinction for you if you’re talking about that in your criminal case. If you have any questions, you’re welcome to call my office for a free consultation. We’re happy to talk to you at any time.”