Can You Ignore a Jury Summons in Florida? – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

Can You Ignore a Jury Summons in Florida?

Very few people are excited to receive a jury summons in the mail, and most people do just about anything they can to get out of serving on a jury. While some people can’t wait to receive a jury summons, you may be trying to figure out how to get out of your civic obligation. 

Along with thinking of ridiculous answers to give during the jury selection process, you may also be considering ignoring the summons. However, did you know there are potential penalties for failing to appear for jury duty? This means you can’t ignore the summons.

Jury Summons

Can You Ignore a Jury Summons

Do you remember the old excuse from school when someone didn’t have their homework ready to hand in? Suddenly, their dog decided to start chomping away at their homework. 

You can try to use the excuse your jury summons is lost in the mail. If you didn’t receive the official court summons, how can anyone expect you to respond? This excuse may actually work the first time but don’t hold your breath.

You’re risking racking up fines and potential penalties, and even if someone believes your jury summons is lost in the mail, eventually you’ll be required to explain this to the court. So instead of ignoring the jury summons, it’s better to think of a legitimate reason why you are unable to perform your civic duty.

Potential Penalties for Not Responding to a Jury Summons

Failing to respond or appear for jury duty can result in a fine. Your fine can’t exceed $100 but this doesn’t always include court costs, and by the time you finish calculating your fine and court costs, the total can easily be over $100.

You may also need to appear in court for an Order to Show Cause hearing, which is when you explain your reason for ignoring your summons and failing to appear for jury duty. Yes, your reason for missing jury duty can affect your penalty. Don’t start getting creative. Remember, you are legally required to tell the truth in court. In other words, don’t lie to the judge.

Your penalty may only be a requirement to serve on an upcoming jury, so think of this as receiving your jury summons directly from the judge. If this is the extent of your punishment, be grateful, and don’t miss your next jury appointment. Just because the judge has ordered you to appear doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be selected to serve on the jury.

If the judge orders you to serve on another jury, you may not have to pay the $100 fine. However, this is up to the judge’s discretion. The judge can order you to pay a fine and appear for the next jury selection process. Several hours of community service is another potential penalty.

What if You Skip Your Order to Show Cause Hearing

Hopefully, you don’t miss your Order to Show Cause hearing. If you miss it, the judge will probably issue a warrant for your arrest. Don’t go into a panic or start hiding your whereabouts. The police probably aren’t going to show up at your front door. 

Instead, if you’re pulled over for a minor traffic violation you may find yourself in handcuffs. You may even spend the night in jail before going before the judge. Now, you’re probably facing additional fines, along with a failure to appear in court charge.

Can You Be Exempt From Jury Duty

There are times when you can be exempt from jury duty; a common reason is you don’t meet the state’s qualifications to serve on a jury. So, what are the qualifications exactly?

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • A U.S. citizen. If you only hold a Visa or Green Card you’re automatically exempt from jury duty
  • A legal resident of Florida with a valid form of identification. This can be anything from a driver’s license, state-issued identification card, government-issued passport, or military ID. Your identification must list your current address in Florida and include a recognizable picture.

If you have any felony convictions or have a case pending against you, this automatically disqualifies you from serving on a jury. A diagnosed mental or physical handicap can also be grounds to recuse yourself from serving on a jury. 

However, if you plan on claiming a disability, you must provide medical documentation. You can’t rent a wheelchair and claim you have a disability. This is illegal and can result in fines and even possible jail time. The judge views this behavior as lying to the court.

Additional Reasons You May Be Exempt from Jury Duty

You can meet all of the above-stated qualifications and still be exempt from serving on a jury. If any of the following applies to you, jury duty may be something you don’t have to worry about:

  • You’re over the age of 70
  • Expecting a baby
  • The caregiver of a child under the age of six or responsible for someone with a severe disability
  • You’re a student and attending school out-of-state

All full-time members of the military and law enforcement are automatically excused from serving on a jury.

Going Through the Jury Selection Process

The jury selection process typically doesn’t take more than a day or so—sometimes, you’re in and out in only a couple of hours. How long the process takes typically depends on the type of trial. 

For example, attorneys on both sides tend to be a little more careful during jury selection for criminal cases than if they’re in civil court. The identity of the plaintiff and/or defendant can also influence how long the process takes. 

Typically, if the case involves a high-profile individual, jury selection will take a little longer. During jury selection, attorneys for both sides will have a brief list of questions. Your answers determine if you’re chosen to serve on the jury.

Talk to an Attorney if You Ignored Your Jury Summons

Ignoring a jury summons and subsequently facing a court date is a situation that requires careful handling, even though it might only be classified as a misdemeanor. Having this charge on your record can have unexpected consequences, so it’s prudent to seek legal representation

An attorney can provide valuable guidance on your legal options and help mitigate any potential penalties. If you ever find yourself in this predicament, talking to a lawyer as soon as possible is the best course of action to understand and navigate your options effectively.