What Happens If I Skip Jury Duty?

One of the most important civic responsibilities American citizens have is jury duty. Trials by a jury of one’s peers are one of the building blocks of a successful democracy – one that citizens are required to participate in. Both defendants charged with crimes and parties to personal injury lawsuits following car accidents and workplace injuries rely on this building block. 

All that being said, it is no secret that not everyone loves jury duty. Many see jury duty as a major inconvenience and will go to great lengths to avoid it. While there are several legitimate reasons to seek an excusal from jury duty, most people are eventually going to have to serve on a jury. 

And failing to show up is not an option. As we’ll see in a minute, skipping out on jury duty can be far more inconvenient than just showing up in the first place.

How Are Jurors Selected?

In Florida, jury duty is administered at the county level by using the motor vehicle records of the residents in the county. In Alachua County, for example, the names of residents 18 years of age and older who have a driver’s license or other identification are chosen at random to serve jury duty. Each resident who meets the above criteria is eligible to serve every year. 

If your name is selected you will receive a summons in the mail notifying you which date you need to show up to the courthouse. For most individuals, jury duty only lasts one day. 

However, it can last longer if you are selected to be on the jury for a trial. If that happens to you, you are required to serve on the jury for the duration of the trial, no matter how long it lasts. You can rest assured, however, as most trials don’t last very long. In fact, over 85% of trials only last one day.

What If You Skip Jury Duty?

Skipping jury duty can lead to stiff fines and other penalties. According to Florida statute 40.23 (3), a person who fails to show up for jury duty can be fined up to $100. The individual might also be held in contempt of court and be required to perform community service. In the most severe cases, an individual could face jail time. 

The courts, however, certainly don’t want to hold residents in contempt, fine them, or punish them in any way. Because of this, delaying jury duty if you have anything from a planned vacation to an emergency, is relatively straightforward. 

Possible Reasons for Excusal

In addition to seeking a deferment for your jury duty, there are several conditions under which you can seek an excusal. These conditions include:

  • If you are 70-years old or older
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are a full-time police officer
  • If you are currently studying outside of the county
  • If you are currently deployed outside of the county

You can also get excused from jury duty if you are not employed full-time and take care of a disabled family member, a child under the age of six, or if you have served on a jury within the last year.

It should be noted, however, that serving on a federal jury is different from the typical jury duty most Alachua residents serve on. If you serve on a federal jury, it is still possible that you would have to serve again in state court. Having served on a federal jury is not a reason for excusal from your state court jury duties.

Fulfilling Your Jury Duty

While it might not be your first choice, fulfilling your duty to serve on a jury is crucial to our nation’s court system. It is also the law. If you meet the criteria for serving on a jury and don’t have a valid excuse, it is in your best interest to show up for jury duty.