Introduction of community service in Armenia


New Criminal Code in Armenia was enacted in August 2003, which has changed its sanction list and introduced community service of as a type of a sanction, alternative to imprisonment. According to Article 54 of the Criminal Code, community service is a court-imposed penalty, which obliges an offender to do unpaid work for the benefit of the community at a place identified by the relevant authority.

Regardless of the specifications of the legal regulations in different countries, community service shares the following common objectives:

  • to achieve correction of individual through supervision of the offender
  • to reduce re-offending rates without isolating the individual from his/her family and friends and without causing the problem of reintegration of the offender into the community (society)
  • to repair the harm done to the community
  • to resolve the problem of prison overcrowding
  • to save state financial and human resources.

In which cases, on whom penalty of community service is imposed and how is it calculated

Community Service may be imposed on persons, who have been convicted for committing crimes of low or medium gravity, punishable by imprisonment of maximum two years and in case of inability to pay the fine.

The court cannot impose community service on disabled persons of first or second category, juveniles under 16 at the time of sentencing, retired persons, pregnant women and drafted servicemen.

Criminal Code of Armenia does not include community service a primary sanction for any crime. However, legislation analysis shows that community service can be imposed in the following two cases։

  • as an alternative to imprisonment for a certain term
  • in case of inability to pay the fine.

Community service as an alternative to imprisonment for a certain term is assigned if the convict applies for it personally to the relevant authority (court) in a written form within 20 days after the receipt of the executive order on the implementation of the sanction. It is noteworthy, that if before the sentence comes into force the convict was deprived of liberty as a preventive measure, then for each day spent in prison the length of community service is reduced by three hours.

According to Article 51 of Armenian Criminal Code, in case of inability to pay the fine the court substitutes the fine or unpaid part thereof with community service. In this case 5 hours of community service equates to the minimal wage, i.e. 1000 AMD.

Community service can be assigned from 270 to a maximum 2200 hours. If calculations imply that the fine exceeds 2200 hours, then 2200 hours of community service is assigned. If the amount of the fine recalculated appears to be less than 270 hours, 270 hours of community service is assigned. Therefore, in the later case the assigned punishment is made stricter.

The Constitutional Court of Armenia on 23.04.2013 in its decision ՍԴՈ-1082 ruled unconstitutional and invalid the provision of the Criminal Code, which defines that if in case of calculation it appears that the duration of community work should be less than 270 hours, then the convict is supposed to serve 270 hours.

The terms and conditions of community service

Procedure and conditions of community service are regulated by Penitentiary Code. Supervision over community service implementation is carried out by the Alternative Sanctions Enforcement Division (ASED) within the State Penitentiary Service.

Implementation of community service is secured by the relevant regional division of ASED in places identified by the latter.

For the purpose of supervising the performance of service determined for the convict, ASED maintains a community service time log, which is filled out, signed and sealed by the administration of the authority or organisation arranging the service.

During the whole term of community service a person sentenced to community service is obliged to comply with the internal working regulations of the bodies or organisations where he or she performs community service, to work conscientiously, to work in places determined for him or her, as well as to notify ASED in case of changing the place of residence.

In case of breaching the procedure and conditions for serving the sentence, the convict is warned of the liability prescribed by law. ASED submits a motion to the court with respect to a convict maliciously evading the performance of community service, requesting replacement of the remaining term of community service with prison term.

A person is considered having committed a malicious violation when:

  • during a one-month period without valid excuse carried out less than 90% of the assigned community service duties provided by his/her registration card;
  • during a one-month period committed more than two serious breaches of the Code of Conduct of the organisation where he serves his sentence;
  • twice in succession not appearing at ASED subdivision when summoned or obliged to do so by law.

In case if the convict maliciously evades the performing of the community service, the court substitutes the unperformed part of it with prison term, counting 1 day of imprisonment for 3 hours of community work.