Monday, January 27, 2014


Coughlin, Johnson & Wimberly Bill Allowing Judges to Award Community Service in Lieu of Fines for Certain Crimes Now Law Measure Will Grant Courts Additional Discretion in Sentencing Individuals (TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig J. Coughlin, Gordon M. Johnson and Benjie Wimberly to allow New Jersey courts to assign community service instead of monetary fines as a penalty for certain crimes is now law. “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 Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “After all, time is a currency everyone values.” Under previous law, a municipal judge could only order an offender to perform community service after they have failed to pay a penalty or defaulted on a payment plan. The new law (A-3254) will now allow municipal judges the discretion to award a community service penalty in lieu of a fine as an initial penalty. “Some offenders simply cannot afford to pay a fine, no matter the amount,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “For others, no fine – no matter the amount – will be enough to deter them from committing a crime. For these individuals, the threat of losing their free time to court-mandated community service may serve as a much better deterrent.” “This is a reasonable alternative to fines that many defendants, quite simply, cannot pay, which serves no purpose,” said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Sentencing such individuals to community service is always a better option to accomplishing nothing. Plus, it can prove a valuable educational experience for defendants and a benefit to our communities.”

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