What Happens if I Don’t Show Up for 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 fail to appear for jury service.
The Rules Regarding 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.
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, 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 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.
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.
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 excusal online. If you receive an excusal, the court will not penalize you for skipping jury duty.