When you receive a jury duty summons in the mail, you may be tempted to discard the notice and pretend like you never saw it. However, serving on a jury is the civic duty of citizens, as those accused of crimes are constitutionally guaranteed a trial by a jury of their peers. Similarly, if you fail to appear, you may be shocked to discover you can face criminal penalties. Keep reading to learn what happens if you do not show up when instructed and how a Cobb County criminal defense lawyer can help you if facing penalties.
Is Jury Duty Mandatory, and Who Must Serve?
In Georiga, jury duty is a mandatory service eligible citizens must complete. The following are the qualifications for jurors:
- Must be 18 years old
- Must live in the state of Georgia and the county where they were summoned
- Must be a United States citizen
- Must be proficient in English
- Have not been convicted of a felony
- Have not served on a jury in the past year
If you meet these qualifications, you are expected to serve. However, there are dismissal qualifications. For example, those over the age of 70, full-time college students, and primary caregivers for children under six can be exempt from serving. However, you must file with the court for dismissal on these grounds, as failure to appear, even with one of these exemptions, can still cause trouble.
Once you receive your jury summons in the mail, you must complete a questionnaire, which is typically online. If you are selected, you must go to the court where you will endure additional questioning to determine whether or not you will be selected to serve on a trial.
Are There Penalties if I Do Not Show Up?
Unfortunately, many do not consider the potential penalties they can face if they fail to appear for a jury summon. In many instances, the courts may hold you in contempt of court for ignoring a jury summons. As such, you will likely need to appear in court for the charge. At this hearing, you must explain why you did not appear in court. If found guilty, you can face up to twenty days in jail, community service, or a $1,000 fine.
If you have a personal excuse, such as illness, or have a vacation or medical appointment, you may be able to have your duty rescheduled for a later date to avoid being held in contempt of court.
Though the penalties may not seem severe, the last thing you want is any criminal record associated with your name for something like failing to appear for jury duty. As such, it’s essential to enlist the assistance of an experienced attorney from Miller Law Practice, LLC. Contact us today to discuss the details of your circumstances to learn how we can assist you.