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What Happens if You Miss Jury Duty in California?
(Legally Explained)

Any prospective juror in California who has been summoned for service, and who fails to respond as directed and be excused from attendance, may be found in contempt of court, which is punishable by a $1,500 fine, 5 days in jail, or both.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What is Jury Duty?

Jury service allows U.S. citizens to partake in the government’s judicial process. Potential jurors are selected at random from among those individuals in a given state who meet certain qualifications. To qualify for jury service, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old,
  • Be a registered voter,
  • Be a proficient English speaker,
  • Have a valid driver’s license

Why is Jury Service Important?

The right to trial by jury is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Jury trials cannot be held unless individuals perform their jury service.

What Happens in You Ignore a Jury Duty Summons?

If you ignore your 1st jury duty summons in California, you will likely receive a 2nd summons with a new court date. If you miss the 2nd summons, you may be subject to fines.

If you show up for the summons and are chosen to be a juror, you must show up for jury duty. By skipping jury duty, a judge can hold you in contempt of court, resulting in fines and jail time. The judge decides if the contempt amounts to a criminal or civil charge.

What Disqualifies You from Jury Duty in California?

While jury duty is a civic requirement for all eligible citizens of California, there are several excuses that can be used to get out of jury duty.

California has a list of specific excuses that can be used to be exempt from jury duty, including excuses for military, elected official, age, police, medical worker, firefighter, and disability. You can also be excused if you don't meet the basic eligibility requirements for jury duty in California.

In most cases, if you qualify for one of the statutory excuses, you can respond to your jury duty summons letter with an excuse note containing proof of your excuse, and you will not have to report for jury selection.

Does Your Job Have to Pay You for Jury Duty in California?

Employers are not required by law to compensate employees while on jury duty, but many do. These employers recognize that without juries the legal system will come to a halt and that financial hardship may discourage employees from showing up for jury duty.

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