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Posted on October 25, 2019 in Criminal Defense

What Happens If I Skip Jury Duty?

Did you get a notice in the mail that you’ve been picked for jury duty? Don’t throw the notice in the trash. Even though it might be an inconvenience, you might have a legal obligation to show up at the courthouse. Skipping jury duty could carry some serious consequences. Here’s what you need to know.

Ignoring a Jury Summons is a Crime

The jury notice you get in the mail isn’t just another piece of paper. It’s actually a summons. A summons is an official order to appear before a court. They’re commonly used in almost all legal proceedings. Since a summons is an official court order, ignoring it or violating what it says is not a good idea. In fact, it’s a crime.

The first time you ignore a jury summons or fail to show up for jury duty, you probably won’t get time behind bars or ordered to pay a fine. However, if a judge finds that you willfully ignored the jury summons or repeatedly skip jury duty, you could be charged with contempt of court.

In Arizona, contempt of court is punishable by a $500 fine and even the possibility of jail time.

Who Has to Show Up For Jury Duty in Arizona?

If you are an adult who resides in the state of Arizona, you are required to show up for jury duty if you receive a notice unless:

  • You are not a citizen of the United States, or
  • You’ve been convicted of a felony and haven’t had your civil rights restored.

So, generally speaking, most people who are at least 18 years old have to show up for jury duty if they are called.

Are There Ways to Legally Get Out of Jury Duty?

What happens if you really can’t just drop everything and show up for jury duty? Will you still be penalized if you have a legitimate excuse or reason why you can’t be there? Not necessarily. There are certain exclusions and exemptions that can get you out of jury duty, at least for the time being.

Postponing Jury Duty

If you’re called to show up for jury duty before a court in Phoenix, the court will allow you to postpone your service for either 60 or 90 days. All you have to do is go online and submit your request. Once your postponement is approved, you’ll be assigned to a new group.

However, this is a one-time deal. Phoenix only allows you to postpone once.

Request to Be Excused From Jury Duty

What if there’s something going on in your life that just prevents you from serving on a jury? If you can prove to the court that showing up for jury duty would create an extreme hardship, it may excuse you from serving

You might qualify to be excused from jury duty in Phoenix if you:

  • Are at least 75 years old
  • Cannot read, write, or understand the English language
  • Suffer from a physical or mental disability (and can prove it with a doctor’s note)
  • Suffer from a medical condition or illness that would prevent you from serving (again, backed by a doctor’s note)
  • Would suffer an “extreme financial burden” and be unable to take care of your necessary daily living expenses
  • Are an AZPOST certified active peace officer employed by the State of Arizona, or
  • Are Active Duty Military stationed outside of Maricopa County.

If you want to request an exemption, you’ll have to send it to the Jury Office via mail or FAX. You can’t request to be excused over the phone or online. Requests for exemptions are considered on a case by case basis, so there’s no guarantee that the court will let you out of jury duty.

You Can’t Miss Jury Duty Because of Work, Unless You’re a Cop

Juries play a fundamental role in Arizona’s criminal justice system. Without jurors, criminal defendants would be robbed of their right and opportunity to have their case tried before a panel of their peers.

That’s why the state takes jury duty so seriously. That’s also why it’s illegal for your boss to keep you from showing up to serve on a jury or punishing you in any way for fulfilling your legal obligation as a resident of the state.

In fact, the court doesn’t even care what you do for a living. Everyone has an equal obligation to show up when called. The only exception applies to police officers. If an office is called for jury duty, they can ask to be excused because of their profession.