Petrov Law Firm | September 7, 2022 | California Law
Some are excited by the chance to perform their civic duty, while others dread the thought of receiving a summons letter in the mail. Regardless of your attitude toward jury duty, it’s a big responsibility — one that you should always do your best to discharge faithfully.
If, however, you’re unable to fulfill this duty for any reason, there may be ways to get out of it.
What Is Jury Duty?
Jury duty requires you to show up to court on a specific date and time with the possibility of being chosen to serve on a jury in an active court case. It is used for both civil cases such as car accidents and criminal cases such as theft. You’ll be given information about the nature of the case when you arrive.
When you’re called for jury duty, you become a subject in the jury selection process. During this process, the judge and lawyers have the opportunity to ask questions as they gather information to decide who they want on their jury.
If you’re selected for a jury, you must attend a trial and listen to both sides as they argue their case. At the conclusion of the trial, you and the other jury members will be expected to deliberate and make certain decisions, depending on the type of case being settled.
How Are People Selected for Jury Duty?
First and foremost, individuals must qualify to serve on a jury. To legally qualify for jury duty, you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have resided in your district for at least one year
- Speak English fluently
- Not be mentally or physically impaired
- Not be subject to felony charges
- Not have any past felony convictions
There’s no specific method for selecting individuals for jury duty. Generally, potential jurors are randomly selected from lists of registered voters or motorists with valid licenses on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
What to Do If You Receive a Jury Summons
If you find yourself summoned for jury service, you’ll be expected to show up to court on the date and time listed. Choosing to ignore it or skip your appointment is not an acceptable option, especially considering that there could be penalties for doing so.
Assuming nothing is preventing you from serving, make sure you notify your employer beforehand. Employers cannot deny you time off to attend jury duty or punish you for doing so.
You May Get Out of Jury Duty If You Have a Valid Excuse
If you think you might not be able to carry out your stint as a juror for any reason, it’s important to notify the court of your inability to attend promptly. Keep in mind, however, that only a few particular circumstances can get you out of jury duty.
You might be excused from service if:
You’re 70 or Older with an Impairment
Once you’ve reached the age of 70 in California, you can request an exemption from jury duty. You can also ask to be excused for mental or physical impairment beginning at the same age.
You’re a Student
If you’re a current student and attending jury duty would require you to miss class, you may be able to have your term rescheduled for when you’re on break.
You’re a Breastfeeding Mother
In California, mothers currently breastfeeding their children can request a postponement for up to a year.
Other Hardships or Potential Excuses
Undue hardship can include any of the following conditions:
- Excessive travel time
- Financial burden
- Not having reliable transportation
- Not having alternate care if you’re a caregiver
You may also be able to postpone jury duty for previously scheduled commitments or vacations.
Exemptions Are Not Guaranteed
Just because you have an excuse ready for the court doesn’t mean you’ll be let off the hook. It’s also unlikely that you’ll be able to evade service forever, as most valid excuses only result in postponement, not outright cancellation.
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