Jury duty is both a civic responsibility and American obligation to serve as a juror in a court proceeding. Texas citizens who receive a summons for jury duty must appear on a set time and date, and be a part of the jury.
But what do you do if you are unable to attend? A lack of childcare, work commitments, or other factors may thwart your ability to attend.
Non-attendance of jury duty can have huge ramifications. You can be found in contempt of court, and heavily fined.
Should you find yourself in this situation, fear not. Consider this useful guide as your get out of jail free card (so to speak).
This article explains the definition of jury duty and how it works. Learn about the selection process, and what happens when you don’t go to jury duty in Texas.
Discover who is exempt, and most importantly, how you can legally get out of jury duty in Texas. Don’t forget to scroll down and read our conclusion, too.
What Is Jury Duty?
Jury duty is an obligation and responsibility for a citizen to be a juror at a court trial.
Serving as a juror means you are upholding America’s 6th Amendment right to obtain a fair and unbiased hearing. You may be asked to attend either a civil or criminal court proceeding.
How Does Jury Duty/Service Work?
In Texas, U. S. citizens summoned for jury duty must appear at the time and date stated. Upon arrival at the named court, you will be asked to fill in a questionnaire. After which, you then take part in the jury duty selection process.
The Selection Process
The selection process enables defending and prosecuting lawyers for the case to question jurors to ascertain their suitability. They check whether potential jurors have any conflicting interests that could hamper a fair trial.
Should they find this to be the case, the potential jurors are immediately removed from selection. Once selected, they may be dismissed from service anyway.
This would be due to a plea bargain, settlement, or the jury reaching full capacity.
Upon selection, a juror will be asked to serve. How long this takes is anyone’s guess. A trial could be over quickly, or it may drag on for months.
What Happens If You Don’t Attend?
Failure to attend may result in being found in contempt of court. You can face a fine of between $100 – $1000.
You will not qualify if you have a criminal record. However, In Texas government code, a deferred adjudication does not disqualify you from jury service.
To qualify, you must be:
Of sound mind
Aged over 21.
A U. S. citizen
Qualified under the Constitution and Laws to vote in the county you will potentially serve, You do not need to be registered to vote.
Who Is Exempt From Jury Duty?
In Texas, you can be exempt from participating in any jury service if you suffer from certain medical or physical disabilities or impairments. In order to be exempt for this, you will need to contact the court directly.
Furthermore, Texas government states that you may be either entirely exempt or asked to reschedule if the jury duty date falls on a religious holy day. The juror must contact the court.
Finally, if a potential juror swears financial hardship to the judge, the juror may be excused from jury duty.
Legal And Valid Excuses To Get Out Of Jury Duty In Texas
Now, the main exemptions are down, let’s take a look at some great, valid excuses that you can use to get out of jury duty in Texas.
1. Age – Being too elderly always works as a valid excuse.
2. Full-Time Student – Being a full-time student with many classes to attend works as a valid excuse. By adding that failure to attend your classes may result in non-graduation is a clincher.
3. Severe Financial Hardship – As previously discussed, a prospective juror who experiences severe financial hardship is likely to be excused. This is considered an extenuating circumstance.
4. Opinions Matter – For all the times your opinionated personality has landed you in trouble, when it comes to being on a jury, it can actually help.
Being far too opinionated makes for a biased juror. Thus, you will be excused.
5. Medical Grounds – If you have recently undergone surgery or are suffering from an incapacitating medical condition, you are likely to be excused from serving on a jury.
However, you may be asked to reschedule for a later date. The judge will make a decision on this.
6. Emotionally Unstable – If you are experiencing the loss of a family member, or currently going through a traumatic event, the court may well excuse you as a juror.
7. Conflict Of Interest – Knowing about the case and having either negative or positive opinions about the defendant counts as a valid excuse for getting out of jury duty.
8. Breastfeeding – If you frequently breastfeed, you may just be excused from jury service.
9. Already Done Your Duty As A Juror – if you can provide evidence of where and when you attended as a juror (within the past 2 years), this can be your get out of jail free card.
10. Work Association – Working with the police on any grounds, and therefore knowing officers involved, will be an automatic and valid excuse.
Attending as a juror can be a pain in the backside. However, it is your responsibility as a Texas citizen to play your part. Whilst these are all great excuses, they must be real to be valid.
To get out of jury duty, you will need to contact the court, fill in paperwork, supply proof of the claim you make and wait to be heard.
Also, any attempt to mislead the court does not have a favorable result. Depending on the evidence you submit, you might even be asked to just reschedule!
When you think about it, attending jury service may just be the easier option.