What happens if you don’t show up for jury duty in California?
If you ignore jury duty, you will likely get away with it at first, even though every citizen is obligated to serve on a jury when called upon to do so.
Sooner or later, however, you will be penalized—you might even be incarcerated. Don’t ignore jury duty in California.
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.
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, 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.
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 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 us know the details so that we can help.
Call the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, at 619-900-6902 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.