One of the few civic requirements we have as U.S. citizens is that of jury duty. There aren’t many terms that get the collective “ugh” like jury duty does. It is one of our highest responsibilities, yet it is generally viewed in a pretty negative way. The first thing that most people do when receiving a summons for jury duty is to reach out to their lawyer friend to ask them how to get out of it! In this quick guide, we will discuss who gets chosen for jury duty, what to expect if you are chosen, and what can happen if you don’t show up.
Who Gets Chosen For Jury Duty?
Any U.S. citizen aged 18 or older is eligible to be chosen for jury duty as long he or she doesn’t have any felony convictions. The jury pool is comprised of people who live in your district that have a valid ID or driver’s license. You must be able to communicate and understand the English language in order to serve as a juror. You also must be physically and mentally able to carry out the functions of a juror to serve as one. If you have physical limitations that prevent you from sitting in one place for too long or have any mental limitations that prevent you from being able to pay close attention for longer periods of time then those could be legitimate reasons to be excused from serving as a juror. If you are older than 70, then you may request an age exemption from jury service. Finally, you may not serve on more than one jury in a twelve-month period.
What To Expect If You Are Chosen For Jury Duty
While it’s not likely that you will actually be selected to sit as a juror, you must plan as if you will be selected. For many people, the first thing they need to do is get the day off of work. It is important to know that your employer is required by law to allow you to go to your jury summons, but they are not required to pay you for the missed time. An employer is also not allowed to fire or threaten any sort of discipline due to jury service.
If you are selected as a juror and the case takes more than one day, then you will need to plan for multiple days missed from work. The pay as I’m sure you already know is low. Jurors receive a minimum of $25 for the first full day or $12.50 for the first half day of service. Each day after Jurors receive a minimum of $40 per day and $20 per half day of service. You can also claim mileage to and from the court. This amount would also expectedly be low as you would be chosen to serve in the district that you live in.
Expect a lot of waiting around when you first go to the courthouse on jury selection day. Each court operates their jury selection system differently. You may not even make it inside the courtroom if the cases that are set for selection that day end up resolving themselves without a trial. Typically, a last-minute deal or dismissal can end your day in court before it even started.
Can I Get Out Of Jury Duty?
The million-dollar question has always been, “how do I get out of jury duty?” Well, there are a few ways that someone can be excused from serving on a jury. A couple ways of avoiding jury duty were mentioned above that deal with physical, mental, or language limitations you may have. But more commonly, people seek to be excused due to some type of hardship they may face due to jury duty. You may have a responsibility that cannot take days off currently. If you have a medical reason, expect to need a doctor’s note to show the judge. If you have school requirements, then be sure to bring your class schedule to show your inability to serve as a juror. If the health or well-being of another requires your presence, then expect to have to explain this hardship in order to be excused from service. Once you get past all of the more general reasons why you can or can’t serve as a juror, then you will be asked more specific questions by the judge and attorneys on the case. They can then choose to remove you for any reason except race. They don’t have to state a reason at all unless an accusation is made by the opposing attorney that the reason behind removing a juror was race based.
What Happens If I Don’t Show Up?
If you don’t show up to a jury summons or service you can be held in contempt, fined, or even put in jail! The jury summons is a court order to appear or at the very least contact the court to see if you have any legitimate reasons to be excused. At Grabel & Associates we recommend that you show up for your jury summons as asked by the court. If you have any further questions related to jury service or have any other legal questions feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896, contact us online, or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can come to you.