Texas Attorney General Opinion: GA-0593 Page: 3 of 7
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The Honorable Jesusa Sanchez-Vera - Page 3
B. Community Service as a Condition of Probation
Community service is expressly authorized as one of the conditions of probation that a court
may impose. Id. 11 (a)(10), 16(a). The main provision concerning community service, section
16(a), was amended by the Eightieth Legislature in 2007 by House Bill 1678 ("House Bill 1678"),
but the amendment preserves the prior law for defendants initially placed on probation prior to
September 1, 2007.6 For defendants subject to the prior law, section 16(a) makes performance of
community service a mandatory condition of probation unless the court finds and notes in the order
(1) the defendant is physically or mentally incapable of
participating in the project;
(2) participating in the project will work a hardship on the
defendant or the defendant's dependents;
(3) the defendant is to be confined in a substance abuse punishment
facility as a condition of community supervision; or
(4) there is other good cause shown.
Act of May 29, 1993, 73d Leg., R.S., ch. 900, 4.01, sec. 16(a), 1993 Tex. Gen. Laws 3586,
3734-35 (law prior to House Bill 1678's amendment to section 16(a)). The prior law also mandates
the minimum and maximum hours of community service imposed according to the classification of
the offense and other circumstances. Id. sec. 16(b).
For defendants placed on probation on or after September 1, 2007, however, section 16(a)
makes community service as a condition of probation largely a discretionary decision of the court,
and eliminates the minimum hours of community service a defendant must perform.' TEX. CODE
CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 42.12, 16(a) (Vernon Supp. 2007) (as amended by House Bill 1678). In
another bill, the Eightieth Legislature amended article 42.12, section 16 to authorize ajudge to order
6See Act of May 21, 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., ch. 1205, 5, 10, 2007 Tex. Gen. Laws 4078, 4079, 4081 (House
Bill 1678 amending section 16(a)).
7See id. While House Bill 1678 amended section 16(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to provide that a
court "may" impose a community service requirement on a probationer instead of "shall," the bill does not address a
number of statutes that arguably mandate imposing a community service requirement in specific circumstances. See, e.g.,
TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. 161.253(c) (Vernon 2001) (providing that a court "shall require the defendant to
perform eight to 12 hours oftobacco-related community service" in certain circumstances); TEX. Loc. GOV'T CODE ANN.
352.082(d) (Vernon 2005) (requiring community service for offense ofburning refuse under circumstances described);
TEX. TRANSP. CODE ANN. 521.350(d) (Vernon 2007) (providing that a defendant whose license has been suspended
for an offense related to racing a motor vehicle on a public highway or street "shall be required by the court in which the
person was convicted to perform at least 10 hours of community service"); see also Kesaria, 189 S.W.3d at 284 (noting
statutes that require a court to impose certain conditions on persons convicted of certain offenses).
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Texas. Attorney-General's Office. Texas Attorney General Opinion: GA-0593, text, 2008; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth275489/m1/3/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.