What Happens if You Miss Jury Duty?

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A few months ago, you were summoned for jury duty. But it was so long ago that you forgot to show up on the day you were supposed to. So what happens next?

While missing jury duty isn’t a good thing, you aren’t the first person this has happened to. In some states, your first time missing jury duty may not have any repercussions. But you will likely be summoned again. This time, there will be a note letting you know if you miss jury duty again, you will be fined.

But before you let out that breath you have been holding, you should know that what will happen to you will depend on the state where you live. Read on to learn more about some possible repercussions of missing jury duty.

What is Jury Duty?

Jury duty is part of one of your obligations as an American citizen. Because of the constitutional right to a trial by jury of one’s peers, jury duty is the government's way of soliciting peers to serve on this jury.

If you live in America your entire life, you will be called to serve on a jury at least once, possibly more, depending on where you live. All states have different periods between being called for jury duty. In states like California, they can call you up to once per year for jury duty.

If you have received a juror summons in the mail, this means you have been called for jury duty. This doesn’t mean that you will have to attend, however, as most summons require you to call the night before to know if you have to show up. Even if you have to show up, there is a chance you will be dismissed before the case is tried.

It is in your best interest to show up for every jury summons you receive.

What Happens if You Miss Jury Duty?

In life, mistakes happen. Maybe you overslept. Or maybe you completely forgot you had jury duty until halfway through the day. Missing jury duty is considered in most states to be a punishable offense. This means you could be arrested or face fines for missing jury duty.

If you know you can’t make your date of jury duty due to an extenuating circumstance, it is in your best interest to contact the court right away. There are many valid reasons for missing jury duty, such as the ones listed below.

  • You have a medical emergency or medical condition
  • You care for a dependent
  • You are deployed with the military
  • You are a full-time student
  • You have been convicted of a felony
  • You are older than 70
  • You are physically or mentally incompetent
  • Financial hardship

Before you contact the court to claim any of the above excuses, know that getting out of jury duty isn’t taken lightly and that you will need paperwork to back up your claim. For example, you can’t just say you are a full-time student without showing a registration. You should also know that the court’s idea of financial hardship and your idea of financial hardship may differ.

It is in your best interest just to show up for jury duty. But if you can’t, you should contact a lawyer to help you navigate becoming exempt from your jury summons.

What Happens if I Already Missed Jury Duty?

Are you reading this because your jury duty was yesterday, and you just realized you missed it? Here are some things that may happen.

Sometimes Nothing

Before you panic, know that the court does understand that life happens. If this is your first time missing jury duty, there is a chance nothing will happen. You shouldn’t bank on this, however, and if you know you can't attend jury duty, you need to make arrangements in advance.

Also, note that if you miss jury duty without an explanation, your name will be put back on the roster, and you will likely be called again soon. You cannot miss this second summons, as this will likely cause you to end up being arrested or fined.

You’ll Receive a Court Order

In some states and cases if you miss jury duty, a judge will issue a court order. This means you will have to appear in court to explain why you missed jury duty. If you receive this sort of summons, you will need to contact a lawyer right away to discuss your options.

You’ll Receive a Bench Warrant

If you ignore your second jury duty or miss the court order, you will receive a bench warrant. This is when the police will show up at your door. They will arrest you and take you to court. This is no light matter, and you will be wanting to call a lawyer to meet you at the station.

You Will Be Issued a Fine

As a result of the bench warrant or the court order, if you don’t show the cause of why you missed jury duty or simply ignore all their attempts to contact you, you will be fined. The fine varies from state to state. In some states, it's as low as $100, in others, you may be facing a fine of up to $1500. There are some states, such as California, where you can actually be thrown in jail for 5 days for missing jury duty.

As you can see, missing jury duty is a serious crime. If you have recently missed jury duty, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If you have missed jury duty and already received a second summons, you should ensure you show up for your second summons.

What if I Have to Work the Day of Jury Duty?

Having a job is not an excuse to miss jury duty, in fact, in all 50 states, there are laws that state that your employer must give you the days you need off for jury duty. When you receive your summons for jury duty, let your employer know right away so they can make arrangements to cover the days while you are in court.

If your job refuses to give you the time off you need to serve jury duty, you need to contact a lawyer right away. The last thing you want to do is miss your jury duty because of your employer, only to be held in contempt of court.

How Many People Miss Jury Duty?

Courts always call an excess of people to serve on jury duty. This is because, in many counties, 30% of people will miss the day of their summons. While some of these are due to the exceptions mentioned above, many of these are accidents. In most cases, when a second summons is obeyed, the issue is dropped, and there will be no backlash for missing your day in court.

Don’t bank on this, however, because in states like Florida, there is no second summons, and you will be fined $100 for missing your day of jury duty. It is always best to plan in advance rather than to try to solve the problem after missing your summons.

How Much is the Fine for Missing Jury Duty?

The fine for missing jury duty depends on the state where you live. After missing jury duty, look up what the fine is in your state. Note that some states issue a fine right away, while other states have a fine that increases for every summons you miss.

If you have a medical reason that you can’t serve on a jury, you need to gather the paperwork right away because the court will continue to summon you until you receive a fine. Contact a lawyer to put the wheels in motion so you don’t have to worry about the consequences of not showing up for court.

Jury Duty FAQ

How Long Does Jury Duty Last?

When you are called for jury duty, you should plan to be at the court the entire day. If you are selected for a trial, you may have to serve multiple days while the trial is heard in court. But even if you aren’t chosen, showing up for one day fulfills your duty as a juror for the rest of the time period specified by your state.

What Should You Wear to Jury Duty?

You don’t need to dress up for jury duty, but you do need to dress respectfully. Dress as if you were going to a business lunch with your boss. It is also recommended to bring a sweater as the courtrooms can be very chilly.

What if You Are On Vacation Dury Jury Duty?

Most states and counties will allow you to postpone jury duty a single time due to a personal reason like a vacation. Read over your summons and look for instructions for asking your date to be moved. If there are none, make a call to the court to find out if there is anything you can do.

What Happens if an Emergency Occurs On Your Way to Jury Duty?

If you have an emergency on the day of your summons, it is best to call the court right away. They can direct you in the proper direction for having your jury duty rescheduled. There should be a phone number or contact person on the summons you received.

Reference Legal Explanations

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  • "What Happens if You Miss Jury Duty?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on February 8, 2023. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-happens-if-you-miss-jury-duty/.

  • "What Happens if You Miss Jury Duty?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-happens-if-you-miss-jury-duty/. Accessed 8 February, 2023

  • What Happens if You Miss Jury Duty?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-happens-if-you-miss-jury-duty/.