Russell Brand will NOT go to jail for smashing a paparazzo's iPhone in New Orleans a few months ago ... after cutting a deal with prosecutors early this morning.
We broke the story ... the New Orleans District Attorney charged Brand with misdemeanor criminal damage for throwing the phone through a glass window during a heated confrontation back in March.
Brand's attorney plead NOT GUILTY on the actor's behalf this morning -- but the two sides worked out a deal in which the case will be dismissed if Brand pays $500 in court fees and performs 20 hours of community service by August 31.
It's a good deal for Brand ... who was facing up to 6 months in jail if convicted.
Brand's attorney says the actor plans to satisfy his community service by working with people battling addiction.