What Happens if I Don’t Show Up for Jury Duty?
Attorney Brian White | April 24, 2020 | Texas Laws
NOTE: We only handle cases involving accidents and injuries. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. We cannot help you beyond the information provided below if you have been summoned for jury duty.
If you don’t think anything can happen to you for missing jury duty, you need to think again.
Granted, few people get excited about receiving the mailed summons to serve on a jury. However, there are stiff consequences if you don’t show up for duty.
Potential penalties for missing jury duty include fines and even jail time, depending on what type of jury you’ve been asked to join.
What Happens if You Skip Jury Duty?
It’s important to remember that your summons for jury duty is not a request. It’s a direct order from the court. Regardless of the type of case (car accident, dog bite, wrongful death, etc.) jurors like you are essential to maintaining the rights and liberties made possible through our legal system.
There are different consequences for the various types of juries.
- Penalties for missing Harris County or district court jury service. Fines for failing to show up for jury service at the county or district court level range from $100-$1,000. You could also be facing six months in jail for contempt of court charges.
- Penalties for missing federal court jury service. If you don’t show for federal court jury service, the feds have the authority to send a government marshal to physically bring you to the court to explain your absence. In addition, you could be facing a $100 fine and three days in jail.
As far as civic responsibilities go, few rank higher on the list than serving on a jury.
Keep in mind that just because you’ve been required to show up for jury duty doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be selected to actually serve on a jury. The summons merely means you’re required to show up and be available to serve.
Can You Reschedule Your Jury Service?
Yes, you can reschedule your jury service online through the Harris County District’s site or through the automated phone system listed on the summons.
Can You Get Out of Jury Service?
If you meet any of the conditions below, you could be legally excused from having to serve on a jury:
- You’re over 70 years of age.
- As the legal custodian of a child age 12 or under, your jury service would leave the child without supervision.
- You’re the primary caretaker of someone unable to care for themselves.
- You’re a fulltime student of a secondary school (public or private)
- A severe physical or mental condition prevents you from serving as a juror, even with accommodation. To claim a medical exemption, you’ll need to complete the Jury Service Medical Excuse Form, have it signed by a licensed physician and present it to the court.
If you feel you meet any of these exemption conditions, it’s best to contact the Harris County District Clerk by calling 832-927-5800 or returning the summons with an explanation to P.O. Box 4651, Houston, Texas 77210-4651.
How Are You Selected for Jury Service in Texas?
Again, just because you received a jury summons in the mail doesn’t automatically mean you wind up serving on a jury.
Here’s how the jury selection process plays out.
- Your name was selected because you’re either registered to vote in Texas or have a Texas driver’s license or identification card.
- On the day noted on your summons, you’ll gather with others who have been called to serve in a group consisting of up to as many as 50-60 people.
- Lawyers representing both sides will then begin a process called “voir dire” – which is Latin for “to speak the truth.” During this time, both lawyers will ask each juror about their ability to serve on the jury in a fair and impartial manner.
- Based upon your answers, either lawyer will be able to approve or disqualify you from serving on that jury.
At the district level, a jury must have 12 jurors. At the county court level, though, only six jurors are required.
How Is Your Job Affected by Jury Duty?
Even though your employer is not required to pay you for time missed for jury service, you cannot be fired because of it. The reasoning behind this is that by serving on a jury, you are also serving your country and your community.
Do You Get Paid for Jury Duty?
Yes; you’ll be paid $6 for your first day of jury service. If you serve longer than that, your pay will be determined by the State Comptroller’s office.
You should receive your check within a week of serving on the jury.