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What Happens if You Fail to Appear for Your Jury Duty Date?

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Our justice system depends heavily on jury duty. If you are contacted about jury duty, you’re expected to attend and uphold your civic responsibilities.

First, it is important to understand that even though you have been contacted about jury duty and are expected to serve, there are some exceptions. The court will excuse you for valid health concerns as well as a few other reasons. That doesn’t mean that because you’re in ill health, you don’t have to respond to the summons. You will have to contact the court and discuss how to go about proving your concerns and validating them before you’re excused.

While illness is the most common reason for a person to be excused from jury duty, it’s not the only reason. Other valid reasons include the following:

  • You’re a full-time student
  • Occupational domain
  • You’re connected to the case
  • You have a strong, unshakeable opinion about one of the issues surrounding the case
  • You have a great deal of advanced knowledge of the case
  • You’re elderly (once you’ve passed your 70th birthday, you’re no longer required to serve on a California jury.)

If you aren’t able to be excused from your jury duty summons, you are expected to show up at the courthouse at the appointed time and date. The first time you fail to appear, you’ll receive a postcard from the court giving you a second chance. If you ignore that second postcard, you’ll be charged with contempt of court.
Getting charged with contempt of court for missing jury duty is not a laughing matter. This is a criminal charge. You will have to appear before a judge who will decide how you’re failure to honor your jury duty obligations will be handled. They could order you to spend a few days in jail, do community service, or even fine you up to $1,500.

If, for some reason, you’re unable to honor a jury duty summons in California, you are allowed to postpone your jury duty. This isn’t an indefinite postponement. You’re only allowed to ask for two jury duty postponements during a 12-month period.

When all is said and done, it’s in your best interest to handle the jury summons as soon as you receive it.