Many people dread the moment they open their mailbox to receive a jury duty order. Many people are not willing to embrace their duty with open arms. After all, jury duty requires investing time, effort, and money. For these and other reasons, many people may decide to skip their appearance in court or disregard the order altogether. As you will know throughout this article, these actions can cause more harm than good. You may be wondering whether there are ways to get out of jury duty in California. Yes, you may able to avoid jury duty. However, a person can be excused from their duty only in specific, limited circumstances, some of which we discuss below. Our dedicated, Ventura personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, invite you to keep reading as we discuss more about the circumstances where you may be excused to be a juror in California.
Getting Out of Jury Duty in California
Every year, thousands of Californians receive a letter requesting their services as a juror for an upcoming trial. Many people may not be familiar with what this entails and whether there is a way to avoid serving. The bottom line is, if the court summons you to participate as a juror, you have to comply with the order. There is no way to trick the court to stay out of your jury duty service. Jury duty is an essential component of a jury trial. Whether the matter is of civil (divorce, alimony, personal injury, etc.) or criminal nature (DUI, assault, murder, etc.), all defendants in a trial case have to be tried by an impartial group of their peers.
The law will not look at those trying to deflect their duties with lenient eyes. On the contrary, if you were summoned to serve as a juror and fail to comply with the order, you may face severe consequences. According to California Code of Criminal Procedure § 1218, those who fail to appear in court for jury duty – after being summoned to serve – can face up to $1,000 in fines and up to 5 days in jail. Furthermore, failure to comply not only will get you a warrant for your arrest, but you may also have a civil contempt stamped to your criminal record, which can affect your life moving forward. No matter how diligent or law-abiding citizen you consider yourself, never reject a jury duty summon order and make sure to comply with everything the court asks.
However, you may wonder if there is a way to excuse yourself from serving as a juror. The short answer is yes. However, there are only a handful of valid reasons to excuse yourself from serving as a juror in California. For instance, one of the reasons for which the court may excuse you from serving as a juror is not having a means of proper transportation. Sure, there are many places where public and private transportation make it feasible for a person to appear in court. However, not everybody has the means to make it to the courthouse. The court will consider your situation and determine whether you are excused or not.
Another reason for which you can be excused from jury duty is mental or physical impairment. Many people can’t move, remain seated or on their feet for long periods due to a physical condition. These potential candidates may be excused from serving as jurors. Another reason for being excused from serving is participating as a juror may place you under financial hardship. Some people depend on their paycheck to meet their obligations and keep themselves afloat. It is possible these people may not be able to keep their finances if they are subjected to the wages provided to jurors ($15 a day).
These are some of the instances where the court may excuse you from serving as a juror. Make sure you are not trying to come up with an excuse or merely trying to get yourself off the hook. As we mentioned above, you may be subjected to steep fines and potential incarceration.
What Happens if I Was Summoned to Be a Juror in California?
Many people don’t realize that receiving a jury duty letter does not mean you will automatically participate in the trial. Before making it to the trial, jurors are virtually potential candidates. The defense lawyer and the prosecution will address all prospective candidates. They will begin with a round of questions to each candidate. As the questioning progresses, the attorneys will excuse candidates until they are left with the selected jurors. The law requires twelve (12) people to participate as jurors in every case.
Once the trial case begins, all jurors must follow strict rules to preserve impartiality. This means refraining from talking about the case with lawyers, witnesses, or anyone who may be close to the case at trial. Part of being a juror is remaining impartial at all times. Therefore, as a juror, you should not jump into any conclusion until all the evidence has been shown. Once all the evidence and witnesses have appeared in the proceedings, the judge will give you and the other eleven jurors a set of instructions before sending you out for deliberation. During this time, all twelve jurors will discuss the details of the case to render a verdict finally.
Experienced Criminal Defense Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Ventura and Santa Barbara
At the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Semth, PLC, we understand how important it is to make sure to follow court instructions. This is why we dedicate ourselves to guiding you and providing you with assistance in understanding how the court proceedings work in California. Our Ventura and Santa Barbara criminal defense attorneys bring decades of experience to every case we handle. It is always in your best interest to understand how court proceedings work to avoid decisions that may potentially put you in a difficult situation with the law. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our skilled, dedicated attorneys today. Our phone number is (805) 643-5555.