What Determines the Amount of Community Service Hours or Probation Someone Receives?

Your sentence, which could include community service, probation, fines, jail time, or a combination thereof, depends on the nature and severity of the crime and whether you have a prior criminal record.

When you meet with a criminal defense lawyer after being accused of a crime, staying out of jail is usually foremost on your mind. With most misdemeanor charges, it is usually possible to avoid jail time, especially if you plead guilty instead of going to trial. The judge might sentence you to probation, community service, or both. While these sentences are not exactly like doing time in jail, they still require a commitment of time. In the case of probation, there are additional restrictions on your freedom, and you are always at risk of going to jail if you do not comply with the terms of your probation. The Austin criminal defense lawyers at Granger & Mueller can help you if you are being charged with a crime punishable by community service or probation.

Community Service in Texas Criminal Cases

Sentences of community service are most common in cases of theft and similar property crimes. In a community service sentence, the court orders you to work without pay for a certain number of hours (not more than eight hours per day) in a specified location, always at a nonprofit organization or government-owned property. For example, you might be assigned to pick up trash on public streets or serve food at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. The number of community service hours in your sentence can range from several dozen to several hundred.

Not everyone can afford to miss work to do unpaid community service. Therefore, the judge may agree to let you pay fines in place of some or all of your community service hours.

How Does Probation Work?

When you are on probation, you must meet regularly with a probation officer and comply with all the other terms of your probation. Judges set the terms of defendants’ probation on a case-by-case basis. For example, the judge can order you to live with your parents, undergo random drug testing, and have no contact with your ex-girlfriend. For second-degree felony convictions, probation sentences can last for up to 10 years, but for third-degree felony convictions and misdemeanor convictions, the probation periods are shorter. The worst thing about being on probation is that violating your probation is a crime. In other words, most adults are free to move out of their parents’ houses, but if your probation terms require you to live with your parents, then you can go to jail if you move out of the family home and rent an apartment with roommates, and the judge finds out.

An Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You Cope With a Community Service or Probation Sentence

A criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid jail time and other excessive sentences. Contact Granger and Mueller in Austin, Texas, or call (512)474-9999.