Jury duty is your commitment to being a citizen of the United States of America. While it is a citizen’s obligation, most people find it time wasting because they just sit and listen to the lawyers’ arguments who are defending their clients. The need to report to court means not being able to work which equates to dollars not earned on that day.
However, failure to report to court for jury service can lead to serious consequences. You will be asked to pay for a steep fee or you will end up serving up to 2 years in prison for contempt of court. Despite these repercussions, there are still those who want to skip jury duty due to inconvenience. But there are some people who have legitimate reasons why they need to get out of the jury. How?
Below are the ways that can help you get out of your civic duty without the hefty fines or years of incarceration.
Student status – if you are called to serve on a jury but cannot make it due to school, you can always ask to have it rescheduled during your school vacation or spring break. Some states also exempt students who are enrolled in online courses or distant learning. But if you do not have intentions of serving, you can request to move the date to December. In most cases, court trials are postponed during the holidays, so it is a convenient excuse.
Economic hardship – serving on a jury means missing work for a couple of days or more which also means lost income. You can explain to the court that a financial burden will be hard for your family to get by, pay your bills, rent, and other necessities. However, this excuse will not work by exaggerating your circumstances. You must provide documents to support your claim like pay slips, last year’s income tax return, and full financial statement. But, remember that this is a case to case basis only.
Poor health or medical hardships – experiencing medical or health problems can be a valid excuse to get out of jury duty. You must present a doctor’s note to support that you are not physically or mentally able to fulfill your jury duties. Or, if you are taking care of an elderly parent, special child, or a family member who cannot afford to pay for private help, are some of the other legit ways to get out of jury duty.
Bias attitude – be honest and tell the court that you cannot come up with a fair judgment that even with all the evidence presented, you simply find it hard to change your mind.
You have served in the last 12 months – this is only applicable if you are living in a state that requires service once a year.
There are several and valid reasons to go out of jury duty. However, if you are trying to get away with it just because you do not like it, then it is not a valid excuse so you have to think better about it.
Intentionally trying to get out of jury duty involves a level of risk and that includes going to prison for up to 2 years. So, if you do not have a good and valid reason, you should consider fulfilling your duty as a citizen of this country.
David Nilsen is the former editor of Fourth & Sycamore. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can find more of his writing on his website at davidnilsenwriter.com and follow him on Twitter as @NilsenDavid.