Online Community Service in the "Covid Age"
Updated: Apr 14
By Clayton T. Robertson, Attorney-at-Law (Criminal Defense Attorney)
If you are looking to complete your community-service obligations (as part of your plea deal or anticipated plea deal) in the current "Covid Age" and you are concerned about your health and safety, here are a few thoughts:
You or your attorney should check, but most jurisdictions likely are not progressive enough to have instituted pre-approved (i.e., court- or probation-approved) online community-service options. Moreover, in ordinary times, the typical Deputy District Attorney (DDA) and probation officer likely would not consider such options sufficiently onerous (or lucrative, as in the case of pre-approved community-service programs that often require daily registration fees, which is ridiculous for low-income clients -- as though our society has devolved to the point where it needs to monetize community service).
In the current situation, you might need to go in (or ask your attorney, if you have one, to go into court for you) to obtain court approval for a reputable online option that suits your situation and appears legitimate.
For example, I noticed that LA Works, a community-service organization in Los Angeles, has set up ways to encourage volunteers to get engaged online -- e.g., at this link (https://www.laworks.com/opportunity/a0C3l00000iCRN3EAO), the organization is giving volunteers a "virtual" opportunity to "help the hungry find food by calling, emailing, and researching food pantries and soup kitchens for Food Oasis." Other organizations (including bilingual providers) likely have set up similar "virtual service" opportunities in your area that might suffice, with court approval, to satisfy your community-service obligations.
However, you should check with an attorney before assuming the online option will be accepted (by the DA's office, court, or otherwise).