Court Mandated Community Service
In some Georgia traffic ticket sentences and in all Georgia DUI sentences, judges will order a person on probation to complete community service. My clients often have questions about this requirement, so I have written this article to clear up some of the confusion.
Before you begin working on your court-ordered community service you should first check that the court approves the organization. Your community service project must be done at a non-profit organization. Many non-profit organizations accept court-mandated volunteers. Some courts accept community service hours performed at your school or church, but others will not credit it as an approved non-profit organization.
To help you find a community service organization, some courts will provide you with a list of approved organizations. If you feel strongly about a particular community service, some judges will allow first-time offenders to work with that charity.
Hands On Atlanta provides another way to find court-approved volunteer opportunities. The organization's website allows you to search for a non-profit that fits your interests. Another great local resource is Must Ministries. Their outreach program is funded by their thrift shops. Many clients have worked in those shops providing the organization free labor, thereby allowing more money to be spent on people in need. Also, do not forget animal shelters and your local Humane Society.
Whichever organization you choose to volunteer with, by law, you must notify any organization you wish to volunteer for that you have court-ordered community service hours to complete and provide information on the nature of your offense. An organization has the right to reject you, as with any employer in Georgia.
Document All Community Service Hours:
I always remind my clients to properly document all community service hours. You will want a record to prove to the court that you have completed the community service requirement. Record every day and hour that you work, so that you receive credit from the court. You should also make sure that you sign in and out on the particular agency's work log sheet. Make sure that you do this as you go, because verifying your hours at a later date will be difficult.
Also, ask the organization to write the court a letter to verify what you did for the organization. Find out before performing the service whether they are willing to write the letter. If not, then go elsewhere. Any organization unwilling to write a letter of completion does not deserve your time.
Community Service Can Be Performed Before a Person Has Gone to Court:
Additionally, most of our clients are directed to perform their community service before going to court. We do this in all cases, even cases where are clients are contesting the charges. No attorney knows the outcome of any litigation, and having all the conditions of probation completed prior to going to court allows us to argue for less punishment in the event our client is found guilty of the DUI charge. Also, for clients that have hired us to negotiate a plea bargain on their behalf, having the community service done prior to court increases our negotiating leverage with the prosecutor.
Further, it is important to hire an attorney that knows what service a particular court will accept. The worse thing that can happen is when a person completes counseling or community service only to be told that it will not be accepted by the judge or the probation officer.
For example, the city of Helen requires all community service to be completed within the city limits. In Fulton County, Judge Morrison requires that the community service be completed within Fulton County. These are just two of many such examples of how judges and courts impose the community service requirement.
For new clients, we suggest where they should perform their community service and where to attend counseling, in order to make sure it will be accepted. Never start either until you have consulted with a Georgia DUI Attorney from our office. We have the local knowledge to make sure that your community service will be accepted.
If you have been charged with DUI in Metro Atlanta or throughout North Georgia, call our office as soon as possible. You only have 30 days to protect your right to drive by appealing the suspension of your driver's license.
Community Service Resources: