SSA court may make a Community Service Order directing the offender to perform community service work for a specified number of hours.
The maximum number of hours of community service that a court is empowered to impose is 500 hours. The number of hours of community service work that may be imposed to the maximum term of imprisonment available for the offence. The following limits apply to the duration of a Community Service Order:
- 100 hours: where the maximum term of imprisonment does not exceed 6 months;
- 200 hours: where the maximum term of imprisonment is more than 6 months but does not exceed 1 year;
- 500 hours: where the maximum term of imprisonment exceeds 1 year.
A person must not be directed to perform more than 8 hours of community service work in any one day or participate in a development program for more than 5 hours in any one day, except by agreement between the offender and the assigned officer.
A Community Service Order may also require a person to participate in a development program e.g. for drug and alcohol addiction or domestic violence.
Before a CSO may be imposed, the court must be satisfied that:
- The offender is a suitable person for community service work;
- It is appropriate in all of the circumstances that the offender be required to perform community service work;
- The arrangements exist in the area in which the offender resides or intends to reside for the offender to perform community service work; and
- The community service work can be provided in accordance with those arrangements.
The Probation and Parole Service may make an application to revoke a Community Service Order where a person has failed without reasonable excuse to comply with their obligations under the Community Service Order. A person will be taken to have failed to comply with his or her obligations under a Community Service Order where they have:
- Failed to perform the required number of hours of community service work within the relevant maximum period; and
- Such a failure under one Community Service Order is taken to constitute failure under all other Community Service Orders in force at that time.
If the breach of the Community Service Order is established, the court, in its discretion, may revoke the person’s Community Service order and resentence the person. The proper course is to re-exercise the sentencing discretion in respect of the offence committed, while taking into account that community service is no longer available.
Breaches of Community Service Orders are taken seriously by courts and are considered a betrayal of the opportunity for rehabilitation. However, the sentence for the offence must not exceed what would be otherwise appropriate for the original offence.