skip to content
Law Handbook banner image

Community service orders

A community service order is available as a primary penalty or as a condition of a bond with/without a suspended sentence, or where a defendant has been unable to pay a fine.

Usually community service can be arranged through Correctional Services, unless suitable work cannot be found for the defendant because of his or her physical or mental infirmity [see Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA) s 45].

Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA) sets out the requirements in relation to community service. An order must not exceed a total of 300 hours (including previous community service obligations still being completed) and there is a minimum period of 15 hours [s 47(1)(a)]. There must be a time specified within which the community service work is to be completed, and this can not exceed 18 months [s 47(1)(c)]. Section 47 does not apply in relation to the performance of community service by youths [see instead the Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA) s 49A].

Community service orders can be varied or revoked by the court and the time within which the order is to be completed may be extended by up to six months by either the court or the Minister for Correctional Services [see Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA) s 50A].

The Minister for Correctional Services also has the power to cancel unperformed hours of community service [see s 50B].There must be substantial compliance with the original requirement, together with no apparent intention to deliberately evade the obligations under the bond or order and there is a sufficient reason for not insisting on the performance of some or all of those hours. The Minister cannot waive performance of more than ten hours under the one bond or order.

The Minister for Correctional Services also has powers where there has been a failure by a person to obey a direction by a community corrections officer in the performance of community service [ s 51]. The hours of community service may be increased by no more than 24 in aggregate despite the fact that its effect may be to increase the total number of hours to be performed above the normal limit [s 51(3)].

If someone does not comply with the terms of the order, including not complying with directions by their community corrections officer, or failing to complete the community service work within the time specified, an application to breach them may be made in court. Non-performance of community service work is enforceable by imprisonment, with every 7.5 hours not completed equalling one day in prison or six months, whichever is the lesser. If the failure to comply was trivial or there are proper grounds to do so, the court may not send the person to prison and instead give them more time to complete the work or cancel some or all of the remaining hours, or if the person has the ability to pay a fine, then the court may order that instead [see Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA) s 71].

Community service orders  :  Last Revised: Mon Jan 11th 2016
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.