Is It Possible To Get Out of Jury Duty in California?
David Muñoz | October 12, 2022 | Personal Injury
People have mixed emotions when they are summoned to serve on jury duty. Some people jump at the chance to participate in our country’s judicial process. Others are indifferent to the idea. And still, some loathe the thought of having to serve, which could be for various reasons.
Below is some general information on jury duty in California, as well as some information on expectations and different options the court will consider when someone is looking to be excused from service.
How Are People Selected for Jury Duty in California?
Potential jurors in California are selected at random from DMV records and voter registration lists.
For most jury selections, the computer will randomly select those jurors for a specific day from the database that the court system gets through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Because of this randomization, some “lucky” people will be selected more than others.
The only restriction to this random drawing is that you will not receive a jury summons twice within a 12-month period. There are, of course, those rare cases where someone will receive two jury summons in one year. Luckily, the court will excuse you if this occurs.
What Are the Legal Qualifications To Serve As a California Juror?
In order to be legally qualified to serve jury duty in California, you must meet the following criteria:
- Must be a United States citizen
- Must be 18 years old or older
- Must be a resident within that county
- Can understand and speak English
- Have not served on a jury within the last year
- Cannot have any current felony charges against you or be on parole or probation
- Cannot be incarcerated
- Cannot be under a conservatorship
- Cannot be required to register as a sex offender
If you’re unsure whether you’re qualified to serve on a jury, contact the number on your summons and speak to someone.
What Is in a Jury Summons and How Do You Respond To One?
A jury summons will be sent by mail and will be marked as “SUMMONS.” It will contain a date on which you will be required to report and the location of the courthouse where you will serve if selected.
Follow the instructions on the summons. Many will make you register as a juror within a certain number of days of receiving the summons. You can typically go online to the juror portal, mail the juror questionnaire, or call the number on the summons to complete the registration process.
You may also need to complete a juror orientation prior to the week of your jury duty. It’s crucial to review the details contained in the summons to ensure that you’re fulfilling your obligations. If you’re unsure of anything, call the number on the document and ask.
During your service week, you’ll be “on call” for five days and must call or check online every day to review your reporting instructions. You must check the Friday or weekend before your jury week to see if you need to report. If not, continue checking each day. You must be available for the whole week in case you need to serve later in the week.
What Is the Process for Jury Selection in California?
Every courthouse and jury department has its own procedures for grouping jurors into pools for specific judges. Once the jurors have been randomly selected and put into a juror pool, the jurors will typically wait until the judge is ready for them.
When the judge is ready, the jurors will be brought into the courtroom, and jury selection will begin. In legal terms, jury selection is known as voir dire, which is the preliminary questioning of the jurors to see which will be the right fit for a particular case.
During voir dire, each opposing counsel will typically ask the jurors specific questions about their thoughts and beliefs on particular topics. These questions allow the attorneys to better understand each person and help them analyze any predisposed biases someone may have that would make them unfit to be a juror in their case.
Each attorney has a certain number of challenges that they may use to get rid of or “strike” a juror from the pool. Jurors have a major say in how the case will go, so this is a very serious process for the attorneys and their clients.
Can a Juror Be Excused from Jury Duty in California?
A person’s obligation to serve as a juror is not absolute. Because of this, given a valid reason, a person may be excused from jury duty. This excusal can occur prior to the reporting date or on the day of by the judge presiding over the case.
Below are some valid reasons that a person may be excused from jury service in California:
- The person is physically or mentally impaired and is incapable of serving as a juror.
- The person has no means of transportation to the court.
- The person is a mother who is currently breastfeeding their child (this excuse will typically allow you to postpone your service).
- The person is a full-time caregiver and cannot afford for someone else to watch their dependent.
- The person has another hardship or excuse, including excessive travel distance or a financial burden.
- You’ve served on jury duty within the last 12 months.
It’s important to remember that the above excuses are not an absolute guarantee that the court will excuse you from jury duty. They may simply allow a postponement of your service.
What Are the Repercussions of Not Reporting for Jury Duty in CA?
Typically, if you miss your jury reporting date, it will result in you receiving a second jury summons. Be forewarned, however, that if you decide to miss your reporting date multiple times, the court may find you in contempt.
If you are found in contempt of court, you could be required to pay a fine of up to $1,500, serve time in jail, or the court may order both. This will show on any criminal background check made on you thereafter.
In short, it is much simpler to appear before the court when summoned for jury duty. If you have a valid reason as to why you cannot serve, contact the courthouse for further information on how to receive an excusal or a postponement for your reporting date.
Contact the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
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