The jury trial system in the United States is one of the most important rights a criminal defendant accused of a crime has as they navigate through the justice system. That being said, very few people want to serve on a jury. Taking time off from work, school, caring for children, or other responsibilities is hard. However, unless you can reschedule or claim a hardship, you must show up when the court directs you to appear on the jury summons. Skipping out on your jury duty could actually lead to legal consequences.
If you are a U.S. citizen and have a driver’s license, state identification card, or voter registration card, the state has your information and can summon you for jury service. You receive notice to appear at a specific date and time.
If you know you have a conflict or will be out of town, most courts allow you to reschedule your service by calling the court or visiting their website. You can schedule a new date for jury service that is more convenient for you.
If you have a hardship that makes it challenging to serve, such as caring for young children, being a full-time student, or having a financial hardship, you may make a claim to the court to be excused. Courts often honor valid excuses for hardship claims.
For example, if you are an entrepreneur of a one-person company and in debt, you may claim financial hardship if you can’t operate your business. Or if you have a severe mental or physical condition that prevents you from sitting on a jury trial, you can request to be excused. Be prepared to show documentation to the court to support your valid reason
If you ignore the first summons, you will likely receive a second summons with a new court date. If you miss the second summons, you may be subject to fines in some jurisdictions. If you show up for the summons and are chosen to be a juror, you must show up for ongoing jury duty. The justice system cannot do its job if jurors refuse to serve on trials. 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.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.