Anyone who is arrested and charged with a crime in Los Angeles has a right to a jury trial. In order to make sure that each defendant gets his or her day in court, California citizens are obligated to serve on a jury once every 12 months. This does not necessarily mean that you will be called for jury duty and be seated every year. Instead, it simply means that when you receive a notice in the mail that you’ve been selected for jury duty, you have an obligation to show up.
Few people have enthusiasm for jury duty. Being selected is, in most cases, met with disdain and annoyance. In Los Angeles, approximately 30 percent of jurors fail to show up to jury duty after receiving a notice in the mail. However, it is important to know that ignoring your duty to serve as a juror can have serious consequences.
Penalty for Missing Jury Duty
What happens if you receive a notice that you’ve been selected for jury duty but fail to appear at the date on your card? Under California law, you can face some relatively-serious penalties. Failing to appear can be considered contempt of court, which under California Code of Civil Procedure § 1218, is punishable by:
- $1,000 in fines, and/or
- A maximum of 5 days in a Los Angeles County jail.
In Los Angeles County, the fine for failing to appear for jury duty can be as high as $1,500.
In most cases, the state will not automatically sentence you to time behind bars and impose steep fines. Instead, they will send a second notice with a new date. This second notice will also likely contain a warning that failure to appear will lead to legal trouble. Continued refusal to show up without a valid reason will have consequences.
Valid Excuses For Not Serving on a Jury
Not everyone can spare the time to serve on a jury. If you have a valid excuse as to why you cannot serve, you have the right to ask to be excused. Excuses must be requested (in writing) on your juror summons. Valid excuses for missing jury duty include:
- Personal obligation to care for another person between the hours of 8AM and 5PM
- Serving would impose a significant financial burden
- Service would put juror at undue risk of physical or mental hardship
- Transportation to and from the courthouse would exceed an hour and half
- Juror has served on a jury within the past 18 months, and
- Active military duty.
You can also be excused from jury duty if you do not qualify. In order to be qualified to serve on a jury, you must be a Los Angeles County citizen who is at least 18 years old with a basic understanding of English. You cannot serve on a jury if you are:
- Under court-appointed conservatorship,
- Serving as a Grand Juror
- Employed as a Peace Officer, or
- Have been convicted of a felony and not had your rights restored.
If you do not request an excuse or explain that you are not qualified, you can face consequences for missing your jury date.
Postponing Jury Service
Sometimes you’re notified that you’ve been selected for jury duty at an inconvenient time. In these situations, California law permits you to request the postponement of service. However, you can’t just decide to skip jury duty. You must complete Part A of your jury summons and call Los Angeles County to register as a juror. Once you’ve been registered, you can go online and request to have your service postponed to a more convenient time.
Not Sure If You Can Be Excused? Get Help
Have you received a notice that you have been selected to serve on a Los Angeles jury? Are you unsure whether you qualify for an excuse or postponement? Call the Rodriguez Law Group for help. We can help you understand your legal duty to serve on a jury and help you avoid the consequences of missing your scheduled date. Call now to request a free consultation with our team.