Community Service: Why You Should Do It If You’ve Been Charged With a DWI

volunteers with garbage bags cleaning park area

When a person is charged with a DUI/DWI in Missouri, he or she will face penalties such as fines, license suspension, and jail time. One of the ways that DUI lawyers work to make sure that people who are charged with a DUI don’t have to serve an excessive jail sentence or pay excessive fines is by entering into a plea agreement with the prosecution to have the person being accused of the crime help the community by performing Community Service Work, rather than being stuck behind bars. 

For many DUI cases, this is the preferred outcome if the defendant is found guilty. Additionally, performing community service before the trial even begins, looks great for the defendant and can help in numerous ways.

Continue reading to learn more about community service as a DWI sentence in Missouri, where and how to do it, and the benefits of performing community service before your trial happens. 

Community Service As a DWI Sentence in Missouri

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When a judge sentences a defendant to court-ordered community service, it is often supplemented with other alternative sentences, such as probation, fines, deferred adjudication, or pretrial diversion in exchange for partial or complete reduction of fines and/or jail time. Court-ordered community service work is considered to be a way to lighten the load of jails and probation departments as well as give defendants the chance to give back to the community and charitable organizations, according to this article. Experts theorize that community service is beneficial and enriching for all parties involved, i.e., the community and the defendant. 

Even though community service sounds like “the easy way out”, in many ways it’s not a simple get out of jail free card

The main difference between performing community service instead of going to jail is that you are now responsible to complete the required service hours in the designated period of time. Whereas, if you are in jail, you are in there until your sentence is over, there’s no responsibility for you to show up to the jail, if you’re already there. With this in mind, it’s important to know what can happen if you fail to comply with the court’s order to keep up with your end of the bargain. 

Often, if you fail to meet the requirements laid out by the court, the punishment is much more severe than your previous sentence and can even find you in criminal contempt of court. 

If you are convicted of a DUI and sentenced to court-ordered community service work, your Springfield DUI attorney can help to make sure that you understand how it works within the organization of the court’s choosing (the court often decides what type of community service you’ll be doing concerning the crime, but sometimes the defendant can choose-more on that later), and how to make sure you successfully complete community service time and fulfill your promise. 

Where To Go For Community Service in Missouri

puppy on bed at shelter

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, Many offenders are ordered to complete a set amount of community service hours as partial repayment of the debt that has occurred from their criminal behavior. Offenders are assigned to non-profit or tax-supported agencies where the work performed serves public needs. 

This includes, but is not limited to agencies such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Animal Shelters
  • Nursing Homes
  • Food Banks
  • Places of Worship
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Parks or Natural Areas

Most of the time when community service work is court-ordered, the judge will assign you to a particular job or service. The judge will take into account the nature of the crime that was committed and personal information about you that will help them to decide the best type of community service for you that is beneficial to the community. 

Community Service Before Your Trial

Doing community service before you even go to trial, may seem counterproductive, but in reality, it’s one of the best things (along with hiring a DUI attorney) that you can do to ensure that the outcome of your trial is a good one. Here are some of the main benefits and reasons to do community service before your DUI trial in Missouri, as outlined by this article:

  • If your DUI attorney recommends that you do community service prior to the trial, you need to follow his or her advice. They will be able to use this as a bargaining tool if necessary.
  • Community service before your trial can help with your sentencing. If you are found guilty of a DUI, being proactive by doing community service may lessen your sentence.
  • The type of community service may be better if you do it first. Not all community service is created equal and there are definitely some jobs that are less appealing. By doing community service before, you may have more of a say in where you get to work. 
  • You may be able to avoid paying probation service fees. Owing less money is always a good thing.
  • If your community service has been satisfied, the court can terminate or suspend your probation. If this is not possible, your DUI attorney may be able to negotiate that your probation becomes “non-reporting” probation, where you wouldn’t be required to see your probation officer on a regular basis and may even get out of paying monthly probation fees. 
  • Community service is a way to show that you are working on bettering yourself, which is how you want to look in the court’s eyes. Looking good in court is a great way to reduce your sentence. 

If you are currently facing DUI charges in Springfield, MO contact DWI Springfield today for a free consultation and to learn more about getting involved in community service work before your trial begins.