Jury duty may be a civic responsibility, but that doesn’t keep most people from regarding it as a serious inconvenience.
If you’ve been served a summons to appear for jury duty but you’re hoping to avoid serving, you might be able to escape the obligation — but only if you meet the exemption criteria.
The good news is many valid reasons can excuse you from serving on a jury. The bad news is if you don’t meet the criteria, there’s not much you can do to get out of serving, and failure to appear comes with serious legal consequences.
Who Has to Serve on a Jury?
The U.S. justice system guarantees a right to a trial by a jury of peers in serious criminal cases. Juries are sometimes also used in civil cases, such as personal injury cases.
The courts have strict rules regarding who can and cannot be summoned as a potential juror. Individuals can be included in a jury pool only if they:
- Are a U.S. citizen
- Are over 18
- Can speak, read, write, and understand English fluently
- Have lived in the judicial district for at least a year
- Are physically and mentally competent
- Have no pending felonies or felony charges on record
If you meet all these qualifications, you can be summoned as a juror. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to serve on the jury.
When you’re summoned for jury duty, you become part of the jury pool, which is made up of potential candidates for the jury that the court and attorneys will select. If you have a valid reason for being excused from jury duty, you can communicate that when you’re summoned to jury selection or by calling the courthouse ahead of time.
Reasons to Get Out of Jury Duty
Valid reasons to get out of jury duty are called “excuses.” Most courts have the same basic excuses in place. The court considers these reasons a sufficient excuse for not serving on a jury. Typically, these exemptions reflect the notion that serving on a jury would pose an excessive inconvenience.
The primary excuses for jury duty include:
- Old age
- Medical/health conditions
- Being the caregiver of a child
- Being the caregiver of a person with a disability
- Active-duty military service
If you meet one of these excuse criteria, you’ll need to submit documentation proving that you’re unable to serve on the jury based on one of the approved criteria.
Most courts allow one final option for temporarily getting out of jury duty: postponement.
Postponing Jury Duty
The court systems understand that people have busy lives, and sometimes jury duty can pose a serious inconvenience at a particular time. As such, most courts give you one chance to postpone your jury service.
You must submit a postponement before the date of your jury service. You’ll need to provide documentation explaining how jury service would inconvenience you or interfere with another commitment — for example, a work conference, funeral, or family vacation.
Skipping Jury Duty Has Legal Consequences
If you’ve received a summons to appear for jury selection, you need to show up, even if you think you qualify for an excuse or postponement. Qualifying for an exemption doesn’t mean you’re automatically excused from service, and failure to follow the proper procedure can leave you in trouble and facing further court summons.
Assuming you don’t qualify for an excuse, it’s all the more important that you show up and serve, even if you don’t want to.
Skipping jury selection or jury duty comes with serious legal consequences. You’ll be served a subpoena for failing to respond to your summons. Depending on how the judge rules, you could even face jail time. Jury duty may be inconvenient, but skipping it comes at a high price.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Bronx, NY
If you need legal assistance, contact the Bronx personal injury lawyers at Oresky & Associates, PLLC at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.
We have two convenient locations in New York:
Oresky & Associates, PLLC – Bronx Office
149 E 149th St
Bronx, NY 10451
Oresky & Associates, PLLC – Queens Office
104-09 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11368