Community Service as A Penalty for a Felony

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The New Republic Act No. 11362

Prior to the enactment of Republic Act No. 11362 (RA 11362), the penalties for violation of a Philippine penal law remained either at imprisonment for a set length of time, payment of a fine, or both.

RA 11362, also known as the Community Service Act, revised various portions of the age-old Revised Penal Code, and granted judges discretion to require community service in lieu of service in jail for offenses punishable by arresto menor or arresto mayor.

Judicial Discretion to Impose Community Service in Lieu of Imprisonment.

Under the Community Service Act, the court may, in its discretion, and lieu of service in jail, require that the penalties of arresto menor and arresto mayor be served by the defendant by rendering community service in the place where the crime was committed, and under such terms as the court shall determine, taking into consideration the gravity of the offence and the circumstances of the case.

In the decision of the court requiring community service as penalty, the magistrate will have to specify the number of hours to be worked and the period within which to complete the service. During the times when community service must be completed, the defendant will be assigned a probation officer.

Limitations and Conditions of Republic Act No. 11362

The law defined community service as “any actual physical activity which inculcates civic consciousness, and is intended towards the improvement of a public work or promotion of a public service”.

The law limited availing the “privilege” under the law to only once (1).

If the defendant violates the terms of the community service, he or she will be re-arrested and will serve the full term of the penalty “in jail, or in the house of the defendant as provided under Article 88”. The completion of the terms of the community service of course warrants the release of the defendant, unless the defendant is being held for another offense.

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