What Happens If I Miss Jury Duty?
If you have received a jury summons in the mail and been tempted to rip it up, throw it in the garbage or otherwise ignore it, you aren’t alone. Jury duty means time off of work and a general upheaval to your schedule. Yes, it’s your civic duty, but no one said you had to be happy about it.
Before you take the lid off the trash can and toss it in, know that your jury summons is a legal order. People have a misconception that they can’t get in trouble for ignoring the notice. The truth is that you could be in more trouble than it’s worth dealing with if you decide to ignore your summons.
Possible Penalties for Missing Jury Duty
The penalties you may be hit with if you decide to skip out on jury duty vary depending on whether you have been called to local or state court. They also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and state to state.
In general, if you call and apologize for missing your jury duty for the first time, you may receive a stern warning and get rescheduled. After the first time, you can expect to be fined or, in some cases, jailed for choosing to shirk your duty. In Fayetteville, GA, for example, a man was sentenced to three days in jail in 1999 because he ignored jury duty. In 2003, Massachusetts leveled fines against close to 48,000 people who decided to miss jury duty. Los Angeles County and New York County have fined people as well.
Making Jury Duty Easier to Swallow
Officials in the criminal justice system know that people don’t want to get “stuck” with jury duty. Some have come up with incentives to get people to show up. In some areas, people are compensated up to $15 a day for participating. In other areas, people are given cheaper or free parking, coupons to local restaurants and more. $15 a day may not sound like much, and it isn’t if you get assigned to a lengthy case, so some jurisdictions are looking to up the amount of compensation for those actually sitting on a jury.
You May Have a Reason to Miss Jury Duty
All of this having been said, there are legitimate reasons you may have to get out of jury duty. Some summonses really do get lost in the mail. Some people have moved and summonses go to old addresses. Other people may be disabled or suffering with an illness. Be prepared to prove any one of these things to a judge. You will still have to be excused — just skipping can still get you in trouble.
What won’t automatically get you out of jury duty is having to go to your job. Employers are required to have policies in place for dealing with jury duty. In some jurisdictions, you can be excused from duty or have it rescheduled if you are a student or fulfill other requirements.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Atlanta, even if it’s having skipped your civic duty, reach out to our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation and discover more about your legal rights.