What Are the Consequences of Skipping Jury Duty?
At some point in your life, you’ll be summoned to jury duty by a local, state, or federal court. Taking time out of your day to serve as a juror can be an annoying interruption to your usual activities. However, jurors play a significant role in determining someone’s future and help protect our fundamental rights.
In the State of Florida, you are required to fulfill your jury duty upon notice, but you are not legally obliged to serve on a jury more than once over a 12-month period. This means that once you complete your service, you will be excused from jury duty for one year from the last day of service. Keep in mind that disregarding your responsibility to appear at the courthouse comes with penalties. In some instances, you may be excused or exempt from service or allowed to postpone the jury service date.
Understanding Your Jury Summons
Prospective jurors are randomly assigned from a list of records that contain Florida residents’ driver licenses, ID renewals, and voter registration information. Residents are notified of jury duty through the mail and will receive an official summons. The summons is a legal notice prescribed by the court in your jurisdiction and carries essential information, including:
- The date and time you must attend
- The location and address of the court
- Directions to the court
- Parking and transportation details
It’s imperative that you closely observe all information presented to you. Immediately notify your employer and mark your physical and digital calendars for a reminder. If you know right away that you would like to inquire about postponing your service or if you are eligible for an exemption, you will be prompted to fill out the response form and send it to the court promptly.
Penalties for Skipping Jury Duty in Florida
Under Florida Statute Section 40.23, failing to participate in your prescribed jury service without a valid excuse results in an automatic $100 fine. In addition, you may be served a contempt motion, which means that you are found to be in direct violation of disobeying a legal order requested by a judge.
Contempt of court charges may require you to represent yourself before the court on behalf of what’s known as an Order to Show Cause. This is where a judge requests an explanation or justification for why you missed your assigned jury service. Depending on the circumstances, you may be presented with a new jury service date, asked to pay a fine or perform community service, and in the worst case scenario, sentenced to jail time.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Juror?
To serve as a juror in Florida, you must meet the following requirements:
- At least 18 years of age,
- United States citizen,
- Live in the county in which you were summoned for at least 12 months,
- Have no prior or pending felony charges,
- Able to speak, read, and write in the English language, and
- Be capable both physically and mentally of satisfying service requirements.
Exemptions and Excuses for Jury Service in Florida
If you have been summoned to jury service in Florida, you may be exempt from serving if you possess any of the following characteristics:
- Over the age of 70
- Expectant mother
- Not employed full-time and responsible for providing care to a child under age six or sick family members
- Employed full-time in law enforcement or other government fields
- Attend a school out of county or state
- Member in the military out of county or state
If you don’t meet the qualifications for exemptions, you may be excused from jury duty if you have a reasonable excuse, such as financial hardship, family issues, public necessity, and childcare.
Avoid Penalties for Skipping Jury Duty with Skilled FL Criminal Defense
Jury duty often comes at inconvenient times. If you’ve been summoned to jury duty and believe you may have a reasonable excuse to not appear, or you were summoned but failed to appear in court, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help determine the best court of action for how to handle your specific situation. The attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm have over 100 years of collective experience handling cases like yours.
Trust the Orlando criminal defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm to guide you through the legal process, from start to finish. Call our office or complete our online contact form today for a free consultation about your case.