What happens if I don't show up for jury duty in California?

Jury service

The law requires a jury of 12 people for a court of law to pass judgement on a criminal case. The government consider it a civic duty that ordinary people, who are randomly selected from the electoral registrar, are asked to perform. When a person is called up for jury duty, they receive a jury summons at home, which consists of a form you must complete and return within 7 days. Failure to complete and send the form back within the stated time period will lead to a £1,000 fine, as will failing to report for jury duty.

Length of jury service

Jury service is usually as close to your home address as possible. It is generally for a period of ten days, but can sometimes last for a longer period of time. During the length of your jury service, you may have to be on a jury for more than one trial. There are some reasons that members of the public can not serve on a jury. You will find these in the form that they get with the summons. A common reason for not being able to serve on a jury is if a person has been to prison during the last 10 years.

Do employers have to pay their staff when they are on jury duty?

It is the employer’s choice whether or not to pay their employee for attending jury service. When a person serves on a jury, they can provide a copy of the confirmation letter to their employer to prove why they will be absent from work. An employer has to allow their employee to do jury service but they have the right to ask an employee to delay their service if their absence will have a negative effect on their business.

Can you lose your job through jury duty?

If an employer refuses to give a person time off to do jury service, then the employee can complain to an employment tribunal. However, if the person were dismissed through their serving on a jury by their employer, then there would be a cause to claim an unfair dismissal. If an employer had asked an employee to delay their jury service and they had refused to ask permission, their claim for unfair dismissal could be invalid.

  • Jury duty is a compulsory civic service by UK citizens who are randomly selected
  • Failure to respond to a jury summons will result in a £1,000 fine
  • Jury service can last for 10 days or longer
  • Some people are exempt from performing jury service
  • Employers can choose whether or not to pay their employees during their absence
  • An employer can ask an employee to delay their duty if their absence will affect their business
  • An employee cannot lose their job by law for doing jury duty


Are there penalties for missing a second jury duty date?

Missing the date listed on the second summons is more severe. It can lead to fines or even criminal contempt of court.

The issuing court can send a missing juror a failure to appear notice. This notice demands the juror to appear in court. If no response is made to the notice, the court can impose a fine. It will also issue an order to show cause. This order demands that the juror explain why they missed their court date. A hearing can be scheduled.

Missing this hearing can be considered contempt of court.


When employees are called to do their jury duty, they usually get a leave of absence from the work, so they could perform their civic duty and attend the court.

That leave of absence is called Jury duty leave and it can be both paid and unpaid, depending on the length of the process.

The law states that every employer has to allow his employees to do their jury duty, otherwise employer himself could get punished.

Sometimes that could be a problem, especially in those months, which are very important for the company’s business.

In that case, the employer is allowed to write a complaint and send it to the court, and the court would then decide if that complaint is valid and, if needed, release the employees of their jury duty until they are free to do it.


Having to pay for jury duty leave for your employees can be frustrating, especially during the peak months of the business season, when the employers tend to earn the most money.

But, it is something that must be done, because the laws clearly state it and rejecting it could potentially mean financial punishment.

So let us explore what employers can and cannot do in this situation.

The Selection Process

In the United States, the act of registering to vote automatically places people into a pool of potential jurors, and those people are randomly selected to serve on a jury. Potential jurors are questioned during a process called "voir dire" to determine whether or not they are capable of serving without partiality or bias.

If you receive a request for jury duty, which is also known as a "summon," keep in mind that receiving a summon doesn't mean that you are officially part of a jury, nor does it automatically mean that you will be listening to a case for weeks. Receiving a summon means that you need to show up for the juror selection process. During juror selection, about one hundred people will report for duty, and only about 15–20 of those people will end up participating as members of a jury.

According to The New York Times, 82 percent of New Yorkers never make it past the voir dire stage. For example, out of a group of one hundred summoned citizens, only 18 will be considered during voir dire, and out of that, only 6 to 12 will be used for the full duration of a trial. Everyone else will be excused.

For most people (whether they're exempt or not), receiving a letter in the mail does not mean you will have to sacrifice your time for weeks and weeks. Typically, you’re just called in for the selection process and sent home within a few hours.

More Ways to Get Excused From Jury Duty

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Why You Still Might Be Picked for Jury Duty

According to the Federal Judicial Center, Congress requires that district courts create a plan for selecting jurors. Usually, this involves having the clerk of court randomly draw names from the list of registered voters in the district but sometimes from other sources, such as the list of licensed drivers.

Only in Ohio and Wyoming do state courts use only the list of registered voters to build jury pools, not drivers lists or tax rolls. That means you can avoid jury duty in county and state court in those two states by simply staying out of the voting booth. Everywhere else? You're likely to end up in a jury pool at some point in your life if you drive a car or pay taxes.

Reaching a Verdict

Deliberations may take a few hours or a few days. While you and the other jurors debate the evidence in the case, you may all draw from your life experiences to make sense of things, but you’re prohibited from using any outside resources, such as libraries or the Internet. Any questions will get submitted to the court for further clarification. It’s considered "juror misconduct" to consider evidence that wasn’t produced at trial and, if it happens, the judge will likely declare a mistrial, meaning the case will have to be heard all over again with a new jury. Similarly, a jury that can’t come to an agreement about the verdict may be considered "hung," and the case would have to be retried.

Jury Selection

Next, the attorneys and judge will begin their "voir dire ," where they question both the group and individuals about potential biases against the parties or preconceived notions about elements of the case. During this process, it’s possible for many of the potential jurors to be dismissed without any explanation from the attorneys. They just decide, based on the juror’s answers to their questions, whether that person would be fair to their client. If you happen to be one of the dismissed jurors, you’ll report back to the assembly room and await further instructions.

Exemptions from Jury Duty

In order to be legally qualified to serve on a jury, you have to meet certain requirements. You will be exempted from jury duty if you do not meet all of the following:

•    U.S. citizen •    Age 18 or over •    Reside in the judicial district for at least one year •    Proficient enough in English to fill out the juror qualification form •    Lacking a disqualifying mental or physical condition •    Not subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment for more than one year •    Never convicted of a felony (unless civil rights have been restored)

Even if you meet all the basic requirements, you may still be exempt. Common exemptions include:

•    Active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces •    Members of a professional fire or police department •    Public officers who are actively engaged in the full-time performance of public duties

Beyond these exemptions, individual judicial districts have their own rules about who is reasonably excused from serving on a jury. Some common exemptions include being over the age of 70, having served on a jury in the past two years, being in certain occupational classes, being on a volunteer fire or rescue squad, or if serving would cause you “undue hardship or extreme inconvenience.” If you do think you qualify for exemption, you must request it in writing to the court clerk.

How Does Jury Duty Work?

When you are called for jury duty, you'll receive the official summons calling you to be available for jury duty at a particular time, date, and place. When you arrive at the assigned court, your first task is to fill out a questionnaire and participate in the jury selection process.

In some municipalities, the potential juror can call the court the night before they have been asked to report for jury duty to find out whether their services will be needed the next day.

State laws address jury duty and these laws differ between states. Check with your state’s labor department to find the laws that govern jury duty in your particular state. The U.S. Department of Labor offers a listing of state labor offices where you can find this information.

If a person has been called for jury duty, a number of outcomes may ensue. They may request and be granted a delay or postponement to a more convenient time during the year. Typically, this requires a phone call and possibly filling out a jury questionnaire, and the potential juror should be prepared to provide an alternate time in the future when they will be able to serve.

The rules for requesting a postponement will vary from one jurisdiction to the next. Also, be aware that just because a person requests a postponement or delay does not mean the court will grant it.

It's also possible to request an exemption to be excused from jury duty altogether. Accepted reasons for a possible exemption vary by state but may include financial hardship, medical reasons, full-time student status, or caregiver duties. Exemptions aren't guaranteed, and usually, they must be accompanied by a written note or proof of the situation, such as a note from a doctor if someone is claiming a medical reason.

Whos Exempt From Jury Duty

There are some people who will never have to report for federal jury duty, regardless of whether they are registered to vote. The federal Jury Act, which requires the random selection of citizens' names from voters lists, states that members of the military serving in active duty, police officers, professional and volunteer firefighters and "public officers" such as elected officials at the local, state and federal levels do not have to report for jury duty.

Some courts also exempt the elderly and people who have served on a jury in the previous two years. If you've got another reason you think jury duty represents an undue hardship or extreme inconvenience, the courts might consider granting you a temporary deferral, but these are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Other people who don't have to serve on a jury are:

  • Noncitizens who have lived in their judicial district for less than a year;
  • People who cannot speak English or read, write or understand English with a degree of proficiency "satisfactorily complete the juror qualification form";
  • The mentally ill or physically infirm;
  • People charged with a felony crime that is punishable by more than a year in prison;
  • Those who have been convicted of a felony and have not been granted a pardon, which restores their civil rights;
  • Minors.

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