Is It Possible to Get Out of Jury Duty in Miami, FL?
March 24, 2023 | Sagi Shaked | Florida Law
When it comes to the mechanisms that help make and keep the American justice system fair, jury duty is essential. Jurors play a crucial role in ensuring that justice is served by hearing evidence, discussing the facts, and reaching a verdict in civil and criminal cases.
However, fulfilling this duty may be inconvenient or disruptive to some people’s daily lives. Often, a jury trial can last weeks and even months, and in some cases, summoned individuals may lack the resources, health, or time to participate effectively as competent jurors.
In Florida and Miami-Dade County, there are several legal options for getting out of jury duty and formal ways to request to be dismissed.
Grounds for Dismissal from Jury Duty in Miami
As with other jurisdictions, Florida statutes describe the grounds, reasons, and allowances for jury duty dismissal.
In Miami, you’ll likely be excused if you meet any of the following requirements:
- Age: In Florida, jurors must be at least 18 years old — if a person is younger than 18, they may not serve as a juror.
- Physical or Mental Incapacity: Whenever a person has a physical or mental condition that makes it difficult for them to serve as a juror, they may be dismissed — however, proof from a doctor or medical professional is required
- Felony Convictions: If a person has a felony conviction, they are ineligible to serve as a juror in Florida
- Language Barriers: Dismissal is likely if a person needs help understanding English to participate fully in a trial
- Hardships: These can include financial difficulties, transportation issues, work duties, and other extenuating circumstances
While every request for dismissal will be different, anyone who receives a notice to serve on a jury trial in Miami must still respond and provide the necessary evidence. Failure to communicate with the courts can result in legal consequences.
Additional Ways to Avoid Jury Duty in Miami
Generally, the courts are strict when they consider the reasons for jury service exclusion. However, Miami-Dade County residents can still seek alternative relief through the court system when they provide a valid reason for their inability to serve.
Some common examples include the following:
- Individuals who served on a jury in the past year
- Adult caretakers
- Expectant mothers
- Law enforcement officers and military personnel
- Persons over the age of 70
No matter the reason, you’ll still need to explain your request and submit the necessary documentation at the Miami-Dade clerk’s office, online, or by mail. Alternatively, you may also request a postponement and serve your jury duty at a later date.
Consequences for Missing Jury Duty in Florida
In Florida, failure to respond to a jury duty summons without a valid excuse can result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest on the grounds of a misdemeanor contempt charge, which can carry a fine of up to $100 and upwards of six months in jail.
Should you ever be in doubt about the consequences of missing your jury duty, consult your local clerk’s office to avoid legal issues down the road.
Jury Duty: Tough Job, Important Process
Jurors are tasked with some of the most critical duties in a court case, whether criminal or civil. Both sides of a case will present evidence and arguments to the jurors, who must consider the facts and findings and make determinations as needed.
In many cases, the decisions of a juror can have life-changing effects on another individual, and it is for these reasons that Miami-Dade County courts regard serving on a jury to be an essential civic duty.
If you feel you’re eligible for dismissal, you should fill out your juror questionnaire and contact the court as soon as possible. Talk to a trusted Miami attorney for concerns regarding the legal consequences of failing to appear.