One of the unique aspects of being an American citizen is that you have the option to participate in the legal system established within the country. Known as serving jury duty, many people often have questions regarding how this process works and if it is necessary to participate. Learn everything there is to know about jury duty so that you can successfully complete your service the next time you are summoned.
What is Jury Duty?
As mentioned, jury duty is a unique right of American citizens in which those individuals can have an opportunity to participate in the judicial system of the country. Every district within the country randomly selects citizens’ names from an established list of registered voters in the district. These people are then given a questionnaire to determine eligibility for jury duty, then randomly chosen to appear for jury duty. The reason jurors are chosen randomly is to avoid bias that may occur as a result of gender, national origin, politics, or anything similar.
Who is Eligible for Jury Duty?
There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to qualify as a juror in the United States. These eligibility requirements include:
- A person must be a United States citizen
- A person must be at least 18 years old
- A person must have lived in the district for at least one year
- A person must be adequately proficient in English
- A person must have no disqualifying mental or physical conditions
- A person must not have felony charges
- A person must not have been convicted of a felony
The above requirements are the most basic for jury duty, however there are some additional items. In particular, there are three groups automatically excused from jury duty. These groups include members of the armed forces who are on active duty, members of police or fire departments, and public officers engaged in full time services.
Steps to Take if You Are Summoned for Jury Duty
Receiving a summons in the mail can be confusing if you have never been called for jury duty before. Fortunately, the process is designed to be relatively simple. Use the following steps to begin the process of your service:
- Review your summons letter and read about your service date and location
- Complete the juror questionnaire include on the form
- Register your summons online on the attached website
- Complete any orientation materials
- Call the number on your summons notice the night before to receive additional information on what time to report
Everything You Need to Know About Juror Selection
If you are called to serve, you will not automatically be joining the juror pool for the trail. Instead, you will join a larger pool of jurors who are asked a series of questions by lawyers from both the defense and prosecution. The goal of this is to identify any background beliefs, relationships, prejudices, or similar items that may impact the opinions of a juror in an unfair manner for the trial. At any point in the selection process, you may be told you are free to go and your service is complete. If you are selected, however, you will be serving on the jury until the trial is over.
What Happens if You Skip Jury Duty?
A large number of people wonder what actually happens if a person misses jury duty and if there are any potential repercussions that a person may experience. First and foremost, a second summons will most likely be sent shortly after the summons date on the first was missed. If the second summons does not receive a response of any kind, you could be held in contempt of court and subjected to fines or jailtime. Therefore, it’s always best to serve your jury duty or file an official approved excuse with the jury service.
Are Jurors Compensated for Their Time?
Yes, jurors are paid for their time, but the amounts will vary depending on the sate you are serving in. Federal jurors receive $50 per day of the trial, but state jurors can receive anything ranging from $5 a day to $50 a day depending on the state. It’s worth noting that a large number of employers will offer pay for days you are out due to jury service, but they are not necessarily required to offer this pay.
Serve your civic duty with pride
Having the opportunity to participate in the legal system established within the United States is a unique right that isn’t seen in a large number of countries around the world. While everybody has busy schedules and may view jury duty as more of a burden than an honor, it is still required to serve when you are summoned unless you have an approved excuse.