Mark Roman | November 24, 2020 | Florida LAw
When you look in the mailbox and see an envelope from the court, it can be an unsettling moment. When you realize that the envelope contains a jury summons, you might become frustrated. A jury summons means that you miss time from work and are inconvenienced.
Serving on a jury is part of our civic duty. It is a vital part of the judicial system in the United States. We are guaranteed a right to be judged by a jury of our peers in criminal court and civil court. Jurors serve on a variety of cases, including cases involving car crashes, slip and fall accidents, construction accidents, and wrongful death.
However, it can still be inconvenient. Many people might consider ignoring a jury summons and skipping jury duty. If you decide to ignore the jury summons, you could face penalties for not showing up for jury duty.
Who Can Serve on a Jury in Florida?
If you have a state driver’s license or identification card and are 18 years of age or older, you are on the list of potential jurors in the county of your residence. You can be called for jury service once per year. You may or may not be chosen for a jury, but you must show up as directed on the jury summons.
By law, jurors must meet specific qualifications to serve on a jury. To serve on a jury in Florida, you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Live in the county in which the court has jurisdiction
- Not be a felon or under current prosecution for a crime
Felons that have their rights restored can serve on a jury.
Can I Get Out of Jury Duty Service?
Some individuals are exempt from serving on a jury. If you are exempt, you can serve on jury duty, but you are not legally required to do so. Exemptions from jury duty in Florida include:
- Individuals who are 70 years of age or older
- Students who attend school outside of the county or state
- Expectant mothers
- Full-time law enforcement officers or investigators
- Military personnel serving outside of the county or state
- Caregivers of children who are under six years of age or a person who is disabled
- People who have served on a jury in the county within the past year
Missing work or being concerned about losing your job is not a valid reason for being exempt from jury duty. Florida laws prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against employees summoned for jury duty.
Can I Postpone My Jury Duty?
There are cases in which the court might postpone your jury service. For example, if you have travel plans that would result in financial losses, the court might postpone jury service. If you have a medical procedure or surgery schedule, you might receive a postponement.
Postponements are usually granted on a first-come basis. Since the court must have a specific number of jurors to conduct court, it is wise to submit your request for postponement as soon as you receive your jury notice.
What Happens if I Don’t Show Up for Jury Duty?
It is important to understand that a jury summons is a court order. Failing to obey a court order has consequences. If you fail to show up for jury duty in Florida, you can be held in contempt of court and fined $100.
If the judge holds you in contempt, you must appear at a court hearing. The hearing is an Order to Show Cause. The judge allows you to explain your reasons for not showing up for jury duty.
At the hearing, the judge may order you to serve for another term of court. He could also issue a fine and order you to perform community service. In some cases, a judge could sentence you to jail time for contempt of court.
If you do not appear at an Order to Show Cause hearing, the judge may issue an arrest warrant. You could then face additional criminal charges.
Respond to a Jury Summons Immediately
When you receive a jury summons, read the summons and all documents included with the summons. The summons and other documents give instructions for responding to the summons, requesting an exemption, or requesting a postponement.
There may also be information about how to dress for jury duty, where to park, what you cannot bring into the court, and where to appear. If you have questions about jury service, you can contact the Clerk of Court as directed on the jury summons.
If you send a letter to the Clerk of Court or other documents requesting a postponement or exemption, keep copies for your records. You might need copies of the documents if any problems arise.
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