How to Get out of Jury Duty: 15 Excuses That Work

Updated on April 22, 2018
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Kate holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Sonoma State University. She has worked as a Police Officer in California's Bay Area.

The fateful day has arrived, and you received that notice in the mail. You’ve been randomly selected to serve jury duty. What does this mean for you and is there any way to get out of it? There must be right? Well there definitely is, but let's start with the basics.

Common Effective Jury Service Excuses

Excuse/Exemption
Example Explanations
1. Extreme Financial Hardship
My employer wont pay for my time spent in jury duty and my family cannot afford to lose that income.
2. Full-Time Student Status
I attend an accredited college or university full time and this would cause me to miss a significant number of classes. Missing classes will likely cause me not to graduate.
3. Surgery/Medical Reasons
I am currently recovering from a back surgery and I cannot sit for extended periods without it causing me significant pain. Also, I am currently on prescription pain medication (bring a doctor's note with you).
4. The Elderly
I am over the maximum age for performing jury service in this state (typically 70 years of age but varies by state).
5. Too Opinionated
Strong opinions and belief's will cause me to not be a fair and impartial juror. I always side with the police (or I always side against the police) on criminal matters.
6. Mental/Emotional Instability
My mother recently passed away and I am having a difficult time dealing with it. I am seeing a counselor two times a week just to get by.
7. Relation to the Case
My son works closely with the defendant in this case. I hear his stories from work all the time and he sounds like a great kid. I could never do anything to hurt his future.
8. Line of Work
I work for a contractor who does work with the local police department and as a result most of my friends are police officers. I do not feel I could be impartial.
9. Already Served
I already completed jury service within the last two years (be prepared to explain when and where).
10. Pregnant
I am currently in the midst of a high risk pregnancy and as a result I have a tight schedule of doctor's appointments that I cannot miss.
11. Breastfeeding
My child is currently breastfeeding and I need to be able to feed him every few hours.
12. Childcare
I am the sole provider of childcare for my niece. My sister is not able to watch the child and cannot afford child care. We also have no other friends or family in the area who can watch the child.
13. Small Business Owner
I own a small business which provides the only income for my family. If I can't open my business during the day, it will cause a significant financial hardship.
14. Recently Moved
I recently moved from this county into a neighboring county. I am no longer a resident of this county and therefore do not qualify to be a juror here.
15. Put It Off
No explanation necessary. You can usually put off jury service up to 6 months, two or three times after being summoned. Varies by state.
This is just a brief summery. To learn more about each position you can take with the court to get you out of jury duty, please scroll down further.

How Long Is Jury Duty?

Jury duty may be a short commitment, or it may be a long one. The average juror will serve 3 to 4 days on trial with many jurors in and out after only a 1 or 2 day commitment.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself on a long, drawn out case (like a serious crime or a major civil dispute), you could find yourself working on the same case for months, although this is very rare. Jury service is very unpredictable and that is why so many people are anxious to get out of it.

Most of us don't have the luxury of dedicating weeks, or months, to sitting on a jury.
Most of us don't have the luxury of dedicating weeks, or months, to sitting on a jury.

The Selection Process

Receiving a request for jury duty is also known as a summon. You aren’t officially part of jury, you haven’t been voted in yet, and this does not mean you will be automatically listening to a case for weeks. This letter means you need to show up for a selection process where out of 100 of you, only about 15-20 of you will be needed.

According to The New York Times, 82 percent of New Yorkers never make it past the stage called “Voir dire.” This is where lawyers pick and choose their permanent panel of 6 to 12 jurors (varying by state and trial) and they eliminate most summoned individuals during this time.

For example, out of a group of 100 summoned citizens, only 18 will be considered during “Voir dire,” and out of that only 6 to 12 will be used for the full duration of the trial. Everyone else will be excused.

Don’t worry, for most (exempt or not) receiving a letter in the mail does not mean you will have to sacrifice your life for weeks at a time. Typically, you’re just called in for a selection process and sent home within a few hours.

Even More Ways to Get Out of Jury Duty

Jury Duty Duck Out: How Most People Can Honestly, In Good Faith Evade Jury Service
Jury Duty Duck Out: How Most People Can Honestly, In Good Faith Evade Jury Service

If none of these excuses seem to be the perfect fit for your situation, take a look at Corey Esquire's kindle ebook "Jury Duty Duck Out." He writes this as a guide to getting out of jury service while remaining 100% ethical and honest with the courts, which is very important! I have read it and it taught me about a few legal reasons you can get out of jury duty that I didn't even know was an option. It's an easy read and Corey has formatted the book in a way that makes it extremely easy to jump to the part of the book that most applies to you.

 

What Is Typical Pay for People Who Serve Their Jury Duty?

The good news is if you are selected to serve, you will be compensated for your time served on both a Petit Jury and a Grand Jury. Both typically pay a base rate of $40 a day. For a Petit Jury the day rate increases to $50 daily once the trial has exceeded 10 days in length.

As for a Grand Jury, the day rate increases from $40 a day to $50 a day after serving 45 days on trial. All transportation, room and board (if out of state/county), meals and parking are also covered during this time. You will receive your payment with 4 to 6 weeks. The pay rate for jurors can vary by state.

Varying per employer and state of residence, many employees will still be paid their normal salary for an allotted amount of days while they serve as part of a jury. All federal employees are entitled to their full salary regardless.

The Jury Act was created to make sure no employer wrongfully fires, harasses or intimidates an employee while they serve duty, however, there is no law stating they must compensate you during this time.

Proven Excuses That Work

Now that you understand the fundamentals, we also understand why you still may be interested in avoiding jury duty completely. Below is a list of proven ways you can avoid serving jury duty and can stay committed to your normal routine.

1. Extreme Financial Hardship

As a juror you will likely receive $40-$50 daily for your time. Some employers will still pay their employees during this time, however, legally employers do not have to pay their employees. If you can prove via payroll and last year’s tax return that losing your standard pay rate will be detrimental to you and your family the court may excuse you.

2. Full-Time Student Status

Most states will excuse full-time students, and occasionally part time students, who are attending an accredited college or university. This does not apply in the state of California, so be sure to check local rules and regulations.

3. Surgery/Medical Reasons

If you are asked to serve on a jury, you may need to set aside 1 or 2 weeks of your time! Do you have a knee surgery next week? Is there an important appointment with your Neurologist scheduled tomorrow? Missing these appointments could be harmful to your health. Bring those records with you.

4. The Elderly

Varying by state, your age will excuse you from jury duty. In many states men and women over age 70 are exempt from serving as a juror. Check your local state's requirements for jury service.

5. Too Opinionated

This goes hand-in-hand with being too vocal. Lawyers want to know they are choosing a juror who will be persuaded by current details and evidence presented in the courtroom, not blinded by fake news they researched prior to the case. Being a know it and all, and being vocal about it may just get you excused from your seat.

6. Mental/Emotional Instability

Did your family members recently pass? Are you going through a divorce? Was your son paralyzed in an accident? Yes, mental disorders are also inclusive in this case, but emotional turmoil based on recent circumstances is a valid excuse as well. Just make sure you are okay with making your personal life public.

7. Relation to the Case

If you know someone involved in the case, chances are you won’t be serving as a juror. This holds true to working for an employer involved within the case or knowing any witnesses. If you know someone or something about the case be sure to speak up. If you live in a small town, do some asking around, you may know someone remotely involved and that could be enough to get you excused.

Important: Speak Up!

It may be uncomfortable to speak up in court, but if attending jury duty will cause a serious hardship on you, make sure you speak up and tell the judge. They will consider your reason and may release you.

8. Line of Work

Often workers in the line of service are excused from jury duty. Most police officers, lawyers, doctors and government officials will be dismissed because of their extensive industry knowledge and experience. If your line of work or personal experience will influence how you look at the specific case being argued in court, make sure you speak up, it could get you fully excused.

9. Already Served

You may be summoned again and again, but you will not have to serve on the final jury if you acted as a juror in the federal or state court over the past 2 years. You will be excused immediately.

10. Pregnant

This goes along the same lines as a medical excuse. If you are pregnant then you will potentially have a long list of doctor's appointments to attend in the near future. There may also be unforeseen issues arising along the way. Make sure you advise the court that you are expecting and you may be relieved of your obligations.

11. Breastfeeding

Even if you aren't pregnant but are currently breastfeeding a child, you'll likely have very little difficulty getting excused. It is not uncommon for children to be breastfeeding up until at least 1 year of age. The courts understand that breastfeeding a child is a serious commitment and consistently excuse breastfeeding mother's for this reason.

12. Childcare

If you are the primary caregiver for a young child and attending court would demonstrate a hardship in providing care for that child, then you have a valid reason not to be a juror. If you use this excuse, be prepared to explain to the judge why no one else in your family can care for the child except for yourself and why daycare is not an option.

13. Small Business Owner

If you are a small business owner it may be a very easy task convincing the courts that committing to jury service would cost your business, and therefore affecting your livelihood. This is especially true if you run a business by yourself and do not have any employees to pick up the work if you are in court.

14. Recently Moved

Most criminal courts have jurisdiction over one county and cannot accept jurors who are residents of a different county. If you recently moved out of county, it is very possible that you still may receive a summons from the county where you used to reside. If this is the case, contact the court before your summons date and you will certainly be excused from having to show up at all.

15. Put It Off

Worst case scenario, if it isn’t an appropriate time for you, you can always put it off. As long as you reschedule within one week of your original date, you can push the date forward up to 6 months!

What Happens If You Miss Jury Duty?

An individual who misses jury duty could face severe charges. Penalties vary by state and could range from jail time to hefty fines. Check your local listing for more details.

To prevent this from happening call the court house or file online at least one week before your summoned date of service. You may then reschedule your jury duty for 2 to 6 months from your original date. This will leave you in good standing with the law.

Conclusion

There you have it. Being a juror isn’t all that bad unless it’s a special case. And if you simply can’t serve on a jury regardless of the time restraints or reasons, try one of these proven excuses and exemptions!

© 2017 Kate Daily

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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is a good read. I have used being opinionated to get out of jury duty. I also have postponed being on jury duty 2X thus far.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 5 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I've never been called up for jury service, but have spoken to a couple of people who have been on a jury, and both have said it was very interesting.

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