When a person is arrested and being charged for a crime, they have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. This right is thanks to the Seventh Amendment in the United States Constitution. The jury is made up of citizens, who are expected to review the case, listen to evidence and testimonies, and make an educated decision about the fate of the trial. Many people are familiar with the jury selection process, but could not showing up be considered a crime? One young adult in Florida recently found out what can happen if you are selected to a jury and don’t show up.
What Is Jury Duty?
The jury summons that you will receive in the mail will require that you appear for jury duty at the courthouse at a certain time and place. When you arrive at the courthouse there will be a jury assembly area. Next up is the jury selection process, called voir dire, where 12 individuals will be selected to serve on the jury for a specific trial. Once the selections have been made jury members are required to report for duty as long as the trial is in process. This could last anywhere from an afternoon to weeks or months depending on the severity of the case.
What Happens If You Miss Jury Duty?
Missing jury duty can lead to big consequences. The exact punishment is left up to the judge who finds you in contempt. Those who miss jury duty can be issued a bench warrant, may be fined up to $1,000, and can even spend some time in jail. Deandre Somerville, a 21-year-old Florida man, accidentally overslept causing him to miss his date for jury duty and was sentenced to 10-days in jail, plus a year of probation, and 150 hours of community service. His failure to show up to jury duty caused the court to be delayed by 45 minutes.
When Can You Miss Jury Duty?
Valid reasons for missing jury duty may include:
- Death in the family
- Dependent care
- Financial or employment hardship
- Military deployment
- Medical emergency
Missing jury duty for any reason should always be communicated directly to the court and should also come with some kind of proof, like a doctor’s stating why you were unable to appear for your summons.
If you or someone you know has recently missed jury duty and needs to be represented, consider giving Russell Spatz a call at (305) 442-0200. He has over four decades of experience and knows the ins and outs of the justice system.
Cbs. “Florida Man Oversleeps Jury Duty, Gets 10-Day Jail Sentence.” CBS Miami, CBS Miami, 4 Oct. 2019, https://miami.cbslocal.com/2019/10/04/florida-man-oversleeps-jury-duty-jailed/?fbclid=IwAR1p-FOr574dVZgwXP_bU0X439dh258zWcOnJqcst0xGF5DYo597PNCSJAs.