CRIMINALS who face jail for minor offences will, under new laws, be able to serve out their sentence in the community.
The Criminal Justice (Community Service) Amendment Bill obliges judges to consider the use of a community service order before jailing somebody.
The new law will mean that a criminal facing a sentence of 12 months or less could serve their time by doing up to 240 hours of community service.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said community service as an alternative to custody achieved several goals for the State.
He pointed out that at present a significant number of courts and judges only rarely involve themselves in making community service orders.