Unless your favorite pastime is binging episodes of courtroom dramas like Bull or Law & Order, you probably wouldn’t be excited by getting a notice that you’ve been selected for jury duty. However, if you do get a jury duty notice in the mail, it is important to (a) response and (b) show up if you don’t have a valid excuse. Failure to appear for jury duty service can have some pretty serious consequences.
Legal Obligation to Serve on a Jury
If you live in Illinois, you have a legal obligation to serve on a jury. Your chances of actually being selected for jury duty are fairly slim. According to the National Center for State Courts, approximately 32 million people are selected for jury duty each year. Only 8 million of these people actually show up for jury selection. Some are properly excused from jury duty, while others simply fail to respond to their notices. In the end, only 1.5 million people are generally seated for jury duty across the country.
What Happens If I Ignore My Jury Notice?
If you are selected for jury duty you must respond. Failing to respond and/or show up for juror selection can be considered contempt of court. Penalties for contempt of court will depend on whether you’ve been selected for a state or federal matter.
- State contempt penalty: $10 – $200 in fines
- Federal contempt penalty: $1,000 in fines, 3 days in jail, and/or community service.
How Can I Get Out of Jury Duty?
You may not have the time or ability to serve on a jury. Are you still subject to a penalty if you have a valid excuse for not serving? If you respond to your jury summons and explain that you have a valid excuse, the state will generally allow you to (a) postpone service or (b) remove yourself from the potential pool of jurors at this time.
Postponing Jury Duty
If serving on a jury would simply be inconvenient at this moment in time, you can ask to have your service postponed. This usually just required a simple phone call to the court clerk where you’ve been asked to serve. When you explain why you need to have your service pushed back, the clerk will enter a new date for you to appear for selection.
If you can prove that serving on a jury would be an “undue hardship,” the state may agree to excuse you from jury duty at this time. Valid excuses for missing jury duty include:
- Medical and physical conditions
- Presently out of the country
- Not a citizen
- Not of age
- Felony conviction
- Currently serving probation
- Full-time student
- Breastfeeding mother
- Job complications
- Obligation to care for another person during the day, or
- Financial hardship.
When responding to your jury summons, you must explain why serving on a jury would cause you to suffer an “undue hardship.” You should not face any consequences as long as you have a valid reason.
Call a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help
Have you been summoned for jury duty, but aren’t sure if you have a valid excuse to get out of it? It is important to respond to a notice of juror selection, even if you have a valid excuse. If you fail to show up for jury selection you can be held in contempt of court and face harsh penalties. Contact the Kostopoulos Law Group to learn more about your rights. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to call us today.
Kostopoulos Law Group
125 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 300A
Chicago, IL 60606