What Happens if You Miss Jury Duty in Miami, FL?
September 29, 2021 | Sagi Shaked | Florida Law
Under Florida law, the penalty for skipping jury duty in Miami includes a fine of up to $100. A judge could also hold you in contempt of court, the penalties for which can include jail time.
Miami-Dade County provides an online portal to request postponement or release from jury duty. The court clerk can release you from jury duty. You will not face fines or other penalties if you request a release before your jury date.
Here is some information about jury duty and what happens if you don’t go to jury duty.
What Is Jury Service in Florida?
Jurors serve an important purpose in the American judicial system. Jurors view the evidence in a trial and decide issues of fact.
For example, if two witnesses to a car accident have conflicting stories about who ran a red light, the jury decides which witnesses to believe.
At the end of a trial, the jury delivers a verdict. In some cases, the jury will have specific questions to answer. Did the parties form a contract? Was there a conspiracy? Did the defendant control the premises where the slip and fall accident happened?
In other cases, the jury will deliver a verdict in favor of the defendant or the plaintiff. If the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff, the jurors will also decide the amount of money to award them.
How Does Jury Duty Work in Florida?
In the United States, if you have a driver’s license, are registered to vote, or have another form of state ID, you are in the database of potential jurors. When a case goes to trial, the state randomly selects a pool of jurors to serve on the case. Just because you are selected for jury duty does not necessarily mean you’ll actually wind up serving in the case.
There are some situations in which you may be able to get excused from jury duty. You could also ask for a postponement and appear for jury duty at a later time. Outside of these circumstances, you are required to appear once you’re summoned.
Both legal teams in the case will select the final panel of jurors they want serving on the case. Even if you’re summoned for jury duty, you might wind up getting dismissed during the jury selection process.
If you are selected for the jury, you’ll have to attend the entire trial, hear the evidence and arguments, and decide if you think the defendant is guilty of the things they’re being charged with.
What’s a Jury Summons?
The court ensures that it has a sufficient jury pool by sending out thousands of jury summons every week.
A jury summons identifies the week you must be available to serve on a jury. The summons will also state that if you miss jury duty in Florida, a judge could fine you up to $100 and hold you in contempt of court.
When you appear for jury duty, you will go through three screenings before you can be called to be on a jury. The court could dismiss you after any of the screenings. This means that most people called for jury duty in Miami will not serve on a jury.
The first screening happens before you reach a courtroom. The court summons more people for jury duty than it will need for all of the trials starting that day. The clerk may summon 300 potential jurors, even though judges only need 72 jurors that day.
If you are left in the waiting room after all of the jury pools are assigned to judges, you may leave. You will have satisfied the jury summons by appearing. You will not need to return until the clerk summons you for jury duty again.
What Is Jury Selection?
The second screening happens in the courtroom. Civil cases in Florida use six-member juries. To get six jurors, a judge might start with a pool of 20 or more jury candidates.
The judge will ask general questions to screen the jury. Then, the judge will disqualify jurors based on their answers. You can leave after the judge dismisses you. You have satisfied the summons by appearing, even though you did not serve on a jury.
The parties’ lawyers conduct the final screening, also known as voir dire. During voir dire, the lawyers ask each candidate questions.
The lawyers can strike you from the jury pool based on your answers. If this happens, the judge will excuse you from jury duty. You can leave, having satisfied the jury summons.
The candidates left at the end of voir dire will make up the jury.
What Happens if You Don’t Show Up for Jury Duty?
Jury duty is one of the most fundamental responsibilities we have as American citizens. If you’re summoned for jury duty, ignoring those summons is not an option. Failing to show up for jury duty without getting excused from service first is a crime and could result in heavy penalties.
In Florida, skipping out on jury duty could land you with heavy fines. You could also be held in contempt of the court and sentenced to community service. You could even wind up facing jail time, depending on your particular circumstances and the judge working on your case.
Excuse from Service
As we mentioned, there are some circumstances in which you may be able to get excused from serving jury duty. If you’re a full-time student, you may be released from your jury duty obligations. You may also be able to get excused if you have a medical condition that would keep you from serving.
You may also be able to request an excuse from service if you have a life circumstance that would make it challenging for you to serve on a jury. For example, if you’re a single parent to young children or if you run a one-person business that would lose money while you’re serving on the jury, you might get excused. In almost all these cases, you’ll have to provide some form of proof of the circumstances that would prevent you from serving.
Failure to Serve
If you get a jury summons and fail to show up for duty, you’ll likely receive a second summons. If you’ve never missed a summons before, you may not face any consequences for failing to respond to the first summons. If you ignore the second summons, too, you’ll start running into trouble.
After a second ignored summons, you could be held in contempt of the court and fined up to $1,000. If you ignore a third summons, you could face a $1,500 fine. And at that point, the judge handling the case may consider sentencing you to up to five days in jail or hundreds of hours of community service.
Skipping Jury Duty Legally
Some people can be excused from jury duty without penalty. The grounds for excusal from jury duty in Miami-Dade County include:
- People with a physical or mental incapacity and their caretakers
- People who served jury duty in the past year
- Expectant mothers
- Law enforcement officers
- Seniors over 70 years old
- Parents who do not work full time and have a child under five years old
If you fall into these categories, you can request a Miami-Dade jury duty excusal online. If you receive an excusal, the court will not penalize you for skipping jury duty.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Miami, FL
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Miami, FL and need legal help, contact our Miami personal injury lawyers at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.
Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers
20900 NE 30th Ave Suite 715
Aventura, FL 33180
What Our Clients Say About Us
Read more of our client reviews here.
- What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
- What Types of Cases Do Miami Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?
- When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
- How Florida Statutes Affect Personal Injury Claims
- 12 Rules for Giving a Deposition in a Miami Personal Injury Case
- Miami Personal Injury Settlements: Myths vs. Reality