Bill would allow community service instead of fine

 A bill that would allow New Jersey courts to assign community service penalties for certain crimes instead of monetary fines was unanimously released Monday from the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Under current law, a municipal judge can only order an offender to perform community service after they have failed to pay a penalty or defaulted on a payment plan.  The bill (A-3254) would allow a judge discretion to award community service as an initial penalty.

“Giving judges the extra flexibility to take into account an offender’s financial standing before handing down a sentence that includes fines that realistically will never be repaid will save our local legal systems time and money in the long run,” said bill sponsor Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19).  “After all, time is a currency everyone values.”