How To Do Community Service in Missouri

Community Service

Looking for a place to do community service in Missouri? Here’s a list of organizations where you may be able to do community service, plus answers to questions about court-ordered community service.

What Is Community Service?

Court-ordered community service is volunteer work that a judge requires a defendant to do as punishment for committing a crime, or instead of paying a fine or serving jail time.

Unpaid labor is not the same as community service. To qualify as community service, it must be unpaid volunteer work for a legitimate non-profit, charitable organization. (See list of charitable organizations, below.)

Where To Do Court-Ordered Community Service In Missouri?

If a judge has ordered you to do community service, that means you must do volunteer work (without pay) at a legitimate non-profit charitable organization. Here are some examples of where you can do community service in Missouri:

  • Library
  • Church
  • School
  • Community Center
  • Homeless Shelter
  • Food Pantry
  • Animal Shelter
  • Salvation Army
  • Goodwill

Where To Do Court-Ordered Community Service In St. Louis

In addition to the charitable organizations listed above, here are some specific places in the St. Louis area where you may be able to do court-ordered community service:

How To Sign Up For Community Service

  1. First, choose a few organizations where you want to do community service.
  2. Then, call those organizations and ask if you can do a few hours of community service for them.
  3. Ask if they will give you a letter on their letterhead proving that you completed the community service hours.
  4. Send proof of completion of community service to the court (or to your attorney) before the deadline.

PLEASE NOTE:  Don’t wait until the last weekend before your court date to start looking for an organization where you can do community service.

People are often surprised to find that there are a lot of other people competing to do community service at the same organization. Start searching for a place to do community service as soon as you know that the court is ordering you to do the community service.

How Do You Prove To The Court That You Completed Community Service?

For court-ordered community service, the defendant or their attorney must provide the court with proof that defendant completed the community service by the next court date.

Here’s how to submit proof of community service to the court:

  • Ask the charitable organization to give you a letter on their letterhead stating that you completed the hours, then
  • Send the letter to the court before your next court date, or
  • Send the letter to your attorney, who will submit it to the court for you, or
  • Go to court on your court date and show proof of completion of community service to the judge.

Some Charities Don’t Accept Court-Ordered Community Service

Some non-profit charitable organizations welcome volunteer workers but do not accept court-ordered community service.

For example, the YMCA and the St. Louis Humane Society do not accept court-ordered community service at their St. Louis locations. However, the Humane Society does allow it at their Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union, MO (See link to their website, above).

How To Be Sure The Court Will Accept Your Community Service

You can ask the court clerk or your probation officer for a list of approved charitable organizations where defendants can do community service. Your attorney can also give you a list of suggested organizations that accept court-ordered community service volunteers.

Will You Be Required To Do Community Service In The City Where You Committed The Crime?

Most judges allow criminal defendants to do their community service hours in the town where they live, even if that is not the city where their criminal case was prosecuted.

For example, if you live in Denver, Colorado and get charged with possession of marijuana in Steelville, Missouri, your court case will be prosecuted in Steelville. If the judge requires you to do community service as a condition of probation, you will (most likely) not have to return to Steelville to do the hours. You can complete the community service hours in your home town of Denver, or whatever city is convenient for you.

You can also split up the hours among several different charitable organizations in several different locations, if necessary.

What Happens If You Don’t Do Your Court-Ordered Community Service By The Due Date?

If you need more time to complete court-ordered community service, go to court on your court date and explain to the judge why you failed to complete the hours by the deadline and ask for an extension of the deadline. If you have a reasonable excuse, the judge will usually allow it.

However, the judge will not be very sympathetic if you go to court to ask for an extension of the deadline and you have not completed any of the community service hours.

The judge does not have to give you an extension and could instead sentence you for your original criminal offense because you are in contempt of the court’s order.

If you don’t complete the community service and you don’t go to court on your court date, the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest, and the Prosecutor can withdraw their plea bargain offer.

Failure To Complete Community Service Is A Probation Violation

If you are on probation and doing community service is a condition of your probation, your failure to complete the community service is a probation violation. The judge could revoke your probation and sentence you for the original criminal offense for which you are on probation.

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For help with your criminal case or traffic ticket, contact St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or at [email protected] for a free consultation.