What Happens When I Skip Jury Duty?

Few people get excited when they’re notified that they’ve been selected for jury duty. It’s easy to see why: jury duty can require you to put your life on hold for little-to-no money. Instead of going to work and bringing home much-needed income, you have to trek down to the courthouse and sit through tedious proceedings. Some try to figure out a way to get out of the obligation. Others ignore the jury summons altogether and pretend as if nothing happened.

Never ignore a jury summons. As a citizen of California, you have an obligation to serve on a jury once every 12 months. Of course, the chances of you being called each and every year are very slight. However, when you do get a notice that you’ve been selected for jury duty, it’s important to respond and follow through with your civic duty. Ignoring your jury summons can have some harsh consequences. There are some ways to get out of jury duty legally if you really can’t participate.

When Can I Be Legally Excused From Jury Duty?

The state of California understands that not everyone who is called for jury duty will be able to fulfill their civic duty. Life can be complicated and sometimes you just can’t spare the time and energy to serve on a jury. You may be excused from jury duty in San Diego if you can articulate a valid reason. Valid excuses for missing jury duty include:

  • Active military duty
  • It would take you more than an hour and a half to travel to and from the courthouse
  • Jury duty would impose a significant financial burden or risk undue physical or mental hardship
  • You have an obligation to take care of another person during the day
  • You served on a jury within the past 18 months
  • You are serving as a Grand Juror
  • You are employed as a Peace Officer
  • Your rights have not been restored following a felony conviction; or
  • You do not meet minimum requirements (a citizen who is at least 18 with a basic understanding of English).

You must submit your request for an excuse in writing on your summons.

Can I Postpone My Jury Duty Obligation?

If you don’t qualify for an excuse, or simply want to push your jury duty back to a later time and date, you have the right to request a postponement. In order to postpone your jury service, you must respond to your jury summons. Complete Part A and call San Diego County to complete the registration process. Once you are registered you can formally request to have your service postponed.

What Are the Penalties for Skipping Jury Duty?

A summons is a legal requirement to appear in court or exercise a legal duty. When you get “called” for jury duty you’re actually receiving a summons. This summons is an order to appear in court to complete your civic responsibility to serve on a jury. Ignoring a legal order from a San Diego court can have serious consequences.

Ignoring your jury summons and failing to show up for jury duty can be considered contempt of court. In many cases, the state will probably assume that you made a mistake and didn’t’ miss jury duty intentionally. They’ll send you a second summons for a new date. Ignoring this second request is more likely result in criminal charges for contempt of court.

Missing jury duty could land you in a San Diego jail for up to 5 days and force you to pay a fine of up to $1,000. You’ll also have a mark on your criminal record. Having a criminal record can make you vulnerable to a wide range of collateral penalties.

Have you been accused of a crime in San Diego? Do you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney? Call the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj today to schedule an initial consultation with our skilled legal team.


Contempt of Court