What Happens When You Don’t Attend Jury Duty

on 03/16/2016 - 11:18 am

Empty Jury Room

What Happens When You Don’t Attend Jury Duty

Serving on a jury is a civic privilege that comes with living in a country that desires to serve justice to its citizens. It is an important part of our national life, but it is hard to drop everything and spend time in court. It can feel like an inconvenience. So what happens if you decide not to go?

Contempt of Court

If you simply don’t show up, there are few things that can happen. A judge can issue a bench warrant for contempt of court. That bench warrant can result in your arrest. It is not likely that police will come looking for you, but if they happen to pull you over for speeding, they can take you to jail because of this warrant. Most counties just charge a fine if you fail to show up when summoned.

Request an Excuse

The easiest thing to do is to go. But if you absolutely cannot attend, for reasons such as illness, write or call the court clerk to request an excuse. You can also request an excuse from the judge the day of the trial. Read through the summons carefully because they may outline what is excusable and how to request an excuse.

Work Doesn’t Count

Keep in mind that your employer cannot penalize you for missing work for jury duty. It may not be the best time to miss work, but work is very rarely allowed as an excuse to be absent from jury duty.

Don’t Ignore a Summons

If you are summoned for jury duty, don’t just ignore the summons and not show up. You could land in jail or with some hefty fines. Instead, make phone calls or write letters to make your requests. The worst that can happen is the clerk or judge will say no you are not excused and you must show up. Juries are often chosen from large pools so it is unlikely that you will even be required to stay in the courthouse for more than a few hours. If you are chosen to be on the jury, be grateful you get the opportunity to perform an important civic duty and be hopeful that if you ever wind up in court, upstanding citizens will be willing to do the same for you.

Get Help

If you happen to skip your jury duty and find yourself in legal trouble, use RIlawyers to find a representative who can help you.   

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