You’ve been summoned. Your civic duty is calling and you must answer.

Jury Duty is either something you look forward to or dread, but there is rarely an in-between. Those who show little excitement toward fulfilling their civic responsibility often have questions. Many of which we will answer below.

Jury service is a legal obligation and a responsibility that should be taken seriously. However, a survey by Pew Research Center shows that younger Americans view Jury Duty as less of an act of good citizenship than older citizens.

Research published in 2017 showed a significant decrease in jury cases and the number of jurors selected. Fast forward to present day, the continual impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed those projections.

The country's justice system was not immune to the pandemic. In 2020, courts were forced to come to a halt. Thus, creating a backlog of more than 20% that many attorneys find intimidating. Today, court proceedings and trials have resumed, calling for an increase in jurors.

The uptick in jury summons have people asking…

What happens if you miss jury duty? How do I get out of jury duty? What happens if you don't go to jury duty?

First and foremost, do not skip jury duty. The consequences for failing to attend are severe. If you do not show up and do not have an exemption or deferral you will likely receive a large fine, community service, jail time, or a combination of all three.

If you receive a summons and have a reason you feel is legitimate that prevents you from attending, you must request a deferral or exemption from the court prior to your summons date.

Certified Mail Labels | Jury Duty Exemption Letter TemplateNotices must be in writing, via the United States District Court. Most courts accept notices sent via fax, email, or U.S. mail. U.S. Certified Mail is the only option in which to provide the sender with proof their notice was sent and received. Which, for something as pertinent as jury duty is absolutely necessary.

For assistance composing your deferral or exemption reques, ftollow the attached template. 

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How does jury duty work?

When a civil or criminal case goes to trial jurors are selected at random from a jury pool. Most states compile a list from the Department of Motor Vehicles and Voter Registration logs. Federal and state courts often use the same jury pool.

Jurors are selected at random by the court in their residing districts. Requirements are in place to ensure a person's validity to serve as a juror. Such requirements are detailed by The Jury Selection and Service Act.

Qualified jurors are mailed a jury summons via USPS with instructions for jury selection. Qualifying and summoning does not automatically mean you will be serving on the jury. During jury selection both the prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge decide who will serve on the jury. Their decisions are based on a juror's beliefs, background, and experience through a series of questions during the selection process.

If you are not selected to serve on the jury you are relieved of your duties. If you are selected as a member of the jury, you will receive information regarding when to report for trial.

Juror Qualification

In order to be selected for a jury, you must meet the following criteria.

  • Must be an American citizen
  • Must be 18 years or older (for Federal cases, state age requirements vary)
  • Must be fluent in English and know how to read and write the language
  • Must be a resident of the presiding district for at least a year
  • Free of any physical or mental handicaps that obstruct service
  • Free of charges or convictions

Juror Exceptions

Citizens who meet the following criteria are exempt from serving Federal Jury Duty.

  • A local, state, or federal public officer
  • Non-federal member of the police or fire department
  • Active duty in the military or National Guard

State exceptions vary. However, full-time students and medical workers are often exempt.

Tips for Jury Duty

If you’ve never been called for Jury Duty the first time can feel daunting. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when serving.

  1. Do not ignore the summon
  2. Be on time
  3. Dress appropriately for court
  4. Be respectful and honest in your answers. Research shows that men are twice as likely to lie to get out of Jury Duty.

FAQs

At what age do you no longer have to serve jury duty?

Excuses for citizens over 70 are often granted.

Do you get paid for jury duty? How much do you get paid for Jury Duty?

Yes. Jurors receive daily payment for serving Jury Duty. Rates vary from $5 in New Jersey to $50 in a number of other states. Even if you are not selected for the trial, you are still compensated for your time. View your state rate.

Do employers have to excuse you from work for jury duty?

Yes. Employers are required by law to excuse you from work for jury duty without any trouble or discrimination for the time away.

Are employers required to pay me for jury duty?

This depends on state laws, but in many cases, employers are required to pay employees for their working hours spent on jury duty. View your state laws.

Additional Resources

Court Statistics Project
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