How Does Jury Duty Work? Here's What You Need to Know
Jury duty is essential because it ensures a fair legal and justice system for all American citizens. Before you go to jury duty, you should get acquainted with the process. How does jury duty work, how can you prepare for it, and how much does it pay? This article provides answers to these and any other questions you might have.
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To understand how jury duty works, you should first get familiar with the eligibility criteria and the jury selection process.
You are eligible for jury duty if you are:
- A U.S. citizen
- Between 18 and 70 years of age
- Fluent in verbal English
- Not a caregiver of a mentally or physically disabled person
Keep in mind that receiving a summons doesn’t necessarily mean you will be on jury duty—you must also pass the selection process.
The complete jury duty process consists of the following parts:
- Courts use software to randomly select eligible people
- After getting picked, you will receive a summons to appear in court at a specified date
- When you go to court, you will fill out a questionnaire to participating in the jury selection process
- During jury selection, lawyers question the jurors to ensure there is no conflict of interest
- After you have been selected for duty, you have to appear in court for all case proceedings
The trial can last from one day to several months, and it ends once the jury reaches a verdict.
Most federal jurors are paid $50 per day during the trial, but county jurors are only reimbursed for food, drinks, and travel. In case your employer does not give you paid leave, you can ask for reimbursement from the court.
Consult the following table for guides to state-specific jury duty pay laws:
If you cannot go to court, you can ask for a delay to a more convenient time. While jury duty laws vary by state, you can always request an exemption if you have a valid reason, such as:
- Financial hardship
- Medical reasons
- Caregiver duties
Federal law does not allow employers to refuse time off or fire their employees for jury duty. If you use that as an excuse not to appear in court at the scheduled date and time, you will be in contempt of court and will have to reappear after a couple of weeks.
In case your employer is not convinced that you are being honest, you should show them a copy of the jury summons for verification.
Under federal law, U.S. citizens do not need to fulfill their duty more than once every two years. If you have served as a juror within the last two years and have been summoned again, you can request to be excused. Keep in mind that your request needs to be in writing and should include your previous jury proceedings.
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- Open DoNotPay in your web browser
- Choose the Request Jury Duty Leave tool
- Enter information about your jury duty
- Upload a photo of the jury summons
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