What Happens if You Don’t Show Up for Jury Duty in California?

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What happens if you don’t show up for jury duty in California?

Failure to attend jury duty without valid excuse or rescheduling can lead to significant penalties. Individuals may face fines of up to $1,500, imprisonment, or both, as outlined in the summons. It’s crucial to adhere to the instructions provided and reach out to the court if assistance is needed. Don’t ignore jury duty in California.

The criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, have extensive experience representing clients facing a wide range of criminal charges.

We will listen to the facts of your case and formulate a strategy to try and help you avoid a conviction. 

To speak with a California criminal defense lawyer today, please contact our office online or call (619) 234-2300 today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Your Obligations as a California Resident

Theoretically, California residents must serve on a jury once every twelve months. In actual practice, however, the odds are long that California will not call you for jury duty more than a few times in your lifetime.

In fact, some people go through their entire life without ever being called for jury duty even once. 

What Are Some Legal Excuses for Skipping Jury Duty?

Just because the state calls you for jury duty doesn’t mean you will serve on one. A multitude of legal exemptions exist, including the following:

  • You are not a U.S. citizen;
  • You are under eighteen years old;
  • You lack a basic understanding of the English language;
  • You are on active military duty;
  • Your roundtrip commute to the courthouse would exceed ninety minutes;
  • Serving on a jury would impose a significant financial burden on you;
  • Serving on a jury would impose a risk of physical or mental hardship on you;
  • You are a daytime caregiver for another person;
  • You have already served on a jury within the past eighteen months;
  • You are currently serving as a grand juror;
  • You are a peace officer; or
  • You lost your rights (the right to vote, etc.) due to a felony conviction and the state has not yet restored them.

If you believe you have a valid excuse to skip jury duty, write your reason on the jury summons and mail it back to the court. Even without a legal excuse, you can request a postponement of your jury duty. 

Call or fill out the form to arrange a free consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer.

What Happens If You Do Not Go to Jury Duty in California?

A court can treat ignoring a jury summons as contempt of court, which is a criminal offense in California.

If you forgot about jury duty, though, a San Diego County court will probably give you the benefit of the doubt the first time.

Ignoring Jury Summons

Ignoring a jury summons in California is also likely to be ignored even if you did it intentionally. Instead, the court will send you a second summons for a new case. 

If you ignore a second jury summons, however, California will likely charge you with contempt of court. In San Diego County, the penalties for contempt of court include:

  • Up to five days in jail; and
  • A fine of up to $1,000.

Do not forget that a contempt of court conviction will show up on your permanent criminal record.

Aggressive San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyers at Your Service

If the State of California has charged you with contempt of court or any other criminal charge, let our San Diego criminal defense attorneys know the details so that we can help.

Call the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, at (619) 234-2300 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation.

A California criminal prosecution is adversarial to the core—in other words, it is a war. We know how to fight for you.

Where You Can Find Our San Diego Office Location

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Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.