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

Updated on March 8, 2019
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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.

It is very likely that someday you will receive a notice stating that you’ve been randomly selected for jury duty. What does this mean for you, and is there any way to get out of it? Don't worry about rearranging your daily schedule or missing out on your other obligations because of jury duty. There are definitely ways to get excused from service.

Common Effective Jury Duty Excuses

Example Explanations
1. Extreme Financial Hardship
My employer won't pay me for time spent on jury duty, and my family cannot afford to lose that income.
2. Full-Time Student Status
I attend an accredited college or university and participating in jury duty would make me miss a significant number of classes. Missing classes will prevent me from graduating.
3. Surgery/Medical Reasons
I'm recovering from back surgery and I cannot sit for extended periods of time. (Bring a doctor's note to support your claims).
4. Being Elderly
I am over the maximum age of participation for jury service in this state. (The maximum age is typically 70 years old, but it varies by state.)
5. Being Too Opinionated
I have strong opinions and beliefs that will prevent me from being a fair 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/Conflict of Interest
My son works closely with the defendant in this case. I hear stories about the defendant all the time. He sounds like a great kid, and I could never do anything that might negatively affect his future.
8. Line of Work
I work as a contractor with the local police department and most of my friends are police officers. I do not feel that I could be an impartial juror.
9. You Already Served
I already completed jury service within the last two years. (Be prepared to explain when and where.)
10. You're Pregnant
I am currently having a high risk pregnancy, and as a result I have a tight schedule of doctor's appointments that I cannot miss.
11. You're Breastfeeding
My child is currently breastfeeding and I need to be able to feed him/her 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. You're a Small Business Owner
I own a small business that provides the only source of income for my family. If I can't open my business during the day, my family will suffer significant financial hardship.
14. You Recently Moved
I recently moved into a neighboring county. I am no longer a resident of the county where the trial is taking place and therefore I do not qualify to be a juror.
15. Put It Off
No explanation necessary. You can usually put off jury service for up to 6 months, two or three times after being summoned. This option varies by state.
This is just a brief summary. To learn more about each position you can present to the court to get you out of jury duty, please scroll down further.

The Selection Process

In the United States, the act of registering to vote automatically places people into a pool of potential jurors, and those people are randomly selected to serve on a jury. Potential jurors are questioned during a process called "voir dire" to determine whether or not they are capable of serving without partiality or bias.

If you receive a request for jury duty, which is also known as a "summon," keep in mind that receiving a summon doesn't mean that you are officially part of a jury, nor does it automatically mean that you will be listening to a case for weeks. Receiving a summon means that you need to show up for the juror selection process. During juror selection, about one hundred people will report for duty and only about 15-20 of those people will end up participating as members of a jury.

According to The New York Times, 82 percent of New Yorkers never make it past the voir dire stage. For example, out of a group of one hundred 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 a trial. Everyone else will be excused.

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

How Long Does It Take to Complete Jury Duty?

Jury duty may be a short commitment, or it may be a long one. The average juror will serve three to four days on trial, and many jurors will be in and out after only a one or two-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 may end up working on that case for months, but that is very rare. Jury service is very unpredictable and that is why so many people are eager 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.

Proven Excuses That Work

Now that you know the fundamentals of juror service, it is easy to understand why you may still 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. Claiming 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 will also be excused. 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 a few weeks of your time. Do you have a knee surgery scheduled for next week? Is there an important appointment with your neurologist scheduled tomorrow? Missing these appointments could be harmful to your health. Bring records of your scheduled appointments to voir dire if you want to present these medical necessities as reasons to be excused .

4. Being Elderly

Depending on your state of residence, your age can excuse you from jury duty. In many states men and women over age 70 are exempt from serving as jurors. Check your state's age requirements for jury service.

5. Being 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 details and evidence presented in the courtroom, not blinded by fake news they researched prior to the case. Being a know-it-all and being vocal about it may just get you excused from your seat.

6. Mental/Emotional Instability

Did your family member recently pass away? 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 that you won’t be serving as a juror. This holds true when working for an employer involved within the case or if you personally know any of the witnesses. If you know someone or something about the case be sure to speak up. If you live in a small town, you may know someone remotely involved with the case 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 for you, make sure you speak up and tell the judge. They will consider your reason and they may excuse you from service.

8. Your Line of Work

Workers in the line of public service are usually 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 that's in court, make sure you speak up. Doing so could get you fully excused.

9. You Already Served

You may be summoned again and again, but you will not have to serve on a jury if you acted as a juror in a federal or state court at any time within the previous 2 years. If you have served in that time period then you will be excused immediately.

10. You're Pregnant

This circumstance is considered to be the same 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 that arise throughout your pregnancy. Make sure you inform the court that you are expecting and you may be relieved of your obligations.

11. You're Breastfeeding

If you aren't pregnant, but you're currently breastfeeding a child, you'll most likely get excused. It is not uncommon for children to be breastfed up until they're at least 1 year of age. The courts understand that breastfeeding a child is a serious commitment and courts consistently excuse breastfeeding mothers for this reason.

12. Childcare

If you are the primary caregiver for a young child and attending court would create 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. You're a Small Business Owner

If you are a small business owner it may be a very easy to convince the courts that participating in jury service would negatively impact your business, and therefore affect your livelihood. This is especially true if you run a business by yourself and do not have any employees to cover your responsibilities if you are in court.

14. You 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 a county, it is very possible that you may still 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 to serve, 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!

How Much Money Do People Typically Earn From Serving on a Jury?

The good news is that if you are selected to serve, you will be compensated for your time 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 fees (if jurors are serving out of state/county), meals, and parking are also covered during this time. You will receive your payment within 4 to 6 weeks. The pay rate for jurors can vary by state.

Payment policies vary among employers and states of residence, but 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 ensure that employers cannot wrongfully fire, harass, or intimidate an employee while they participate in jury duty, however, there is no law stating they must compensate you for your participation.

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 county's listings for more details on the potential consequences of missing voir dire or jury duty.

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

For a great, more detailed explanation of what can happen, see the article: What Happens If You Miss Jury Duty?

There you have it. Being a juror isn’t all that bad unless you're participating in a special case. And if you simply can’t serve on a jury, try using one of these proven excuses and exemptions!

More Ways to Get Excused From 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 use to get out of jury duty that I didn't know were viable options. 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 best applies to you.

Questions & Answers

  • Is it legal to only be paid $13 a day for jury duty (the judge said that's all we'd get) while not being excused? I'm a single working mom and can't afford to miss work.

    Is it legal? Yes, it is. Is it right? That's a different question.

    Here's the deal, if the judge told you this then that is your answer. He or she will not excuse you because you are a single working mom and can't afford to miss work.

    Now, if you inform the judge that you respect that answer and fully understand the court's decision but you don't believe you would be able to focus on the case due to the stress you'll be feeling from the financial burden being there will cause your family, you may get a different answer.

    Here's the thing, if you inform a judge that you will not be able to focus on the evidence being presented or make a sound decision based only on the evidence due to your mental state, they'd be risking a mistrial by keeping you on the jury.

    Even if the judge still insisted that you stay, I'm sure the attorneys would be very eager to eliminate you during the juror selection process.

  • Can a person get out of jury duty if they are the primary caregiver for their disabled parents?

    Yes! I have seen that same excuse used many times with success in the past. This is especially true if you are able to articulate why only you can provide the level of care necessary for your disabled parents.

    For example, you may be the only reasonable person to provide this care if there is special training that you have had on how to care for their specific condition, how to administer medications, or any other special knowledge you have that cannot be easily taken over by someone else.

    Consider all the reasons why it might be detrimental to the care of your parents if someone else, who was not familiar with their specialized care requirements, took over while you were serving on the jury. Articulate this to the judge and you have a very high likelihood of being excused.

    Just be prepared for when the judge asks you, "Who is caring for them now while you are in court today?" and the follow up question of "Why can't they care for your parents while you are serving as a juror?"

  • Can I get off of jury duty if I am a full time college student?

    Yes! This is a very common exemption from serving on a jury. The only catch here is that it is not an "automatic disqualifier." What that means is you will most likely not be able to be excused by calling into the courts or by writing a letter since the judge will be the only one who can excuse you for this reason. This will have to be done on the first day of jury service. However, this can vary by state.

    This means you will need to speak up! So don't be shy and make sure that the court knows you are a full time college student. It is important to go further than that though and make sure you explain how missing classes can very easily cause you to fail those classes, which would be detrimental to your education (if that's in fact the case in your situation).

    If you take your time and fully explain the situation, you are likely to be quickly excused. Just remember that you will still need to go on the first day of service and explain it straight to the judge.

  • Is not having transportation to and from court a valid reason to get out of jury duty?

    I have never seen this excuse work in the courts. I'm not saying that it can't, but you'd probably need to have a very convincing reason as to why you wouldn't be able to get to court.

    If you attempt to use this reason for not being able to serve on a jury, be ready for follow up questions from the judge such as:

    - Why are you unable to use a friend, family member, public transportation, a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or some other means to get to court?

    - How did you get to court today (if you make this excuse in person to the judge)?

    If you have a disability in some way that would prevent you from getting to court by any of the means mentioned above, you may have some success. If this is the case, call the court before your scheduled appearance date and see if you can be excused without making an in-person appearance.

  • I booked a non-refundable vacation, can I be excused from jury service for this reason?

    Possibly, although it is unlikely. I have seen some judges allow this. However, most will not. Instead, you may want to ask the judge for a one-time postponement on your jury service as a compromise. He or she will be much more likely to allow for a postponement for this reason than to just excuse you completely.

    The vast majority of "vacation" excuses I have seen in court have been denied. I think the reason for this is that many people will book a vacation as soon as they find out they have jury duty in an attempt to get out of it.

    You would have the best chance of making this excuse work if you make the following clear to the judge during your chance to explain your situation (depending on what applies to your specific situation):

    1 - Tell the judge the exact date that you booked the vacation and the exact date that you received your summons to court in the mail (hopefully you booked your vacation before you received your summons). Have proof with you if possible.

    2 - Explain the cost you incurred on vacation and what aspects of the vacation are non-refundable. If others are relying on your presence, explain that as well.

    3 - Explain the financial difficulty it will cause for your family if the money you saved up for this vacation were to go to waste.

    Even with all these things prepared to explain to the judge, your chances are still relatively low on getting completely excused. That is why I suggest you ask for a postponement instead.

© 2017 Kate Daily


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    • profile image


      4 months ago

      Here's what you do: you show up one time. Just one. When you are questioned, you let them know in no uncertain terms that as a juror, you are a prosecutor's worst nightmare. Tell them you know full well that there are thousands of people sitting in prison that shouldn't be, and you refuse to contribute to this statistic.

      Trust me: you will NEVER be called for jury duty again.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      I have bad hearing almost deaf in left ear and right ear at certain tones along with ringing in the ears makes it hard to hear and can prove it.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      I d i am disable. Can i get out of jurd dutie

    • profile image

      Alan Finlayson, Edinburgh, Scotland 

      5 months ago

      P.S. I forgot to mention that in Scotland a jury comprises 15 jurors and not 12 like most other jurisdictions.

    • profile image

      Alan Finlayson, Edinburgh, Scotland 

      5 months ago

      The system of jury service in Scotland is very different. 100 summonses are issued randomly from the electoral role (this used to be my job as a clerk in the Supreme civil court in Scotland, the Court of Session). When people phoned in with reasons why they could not attend I merely advised them not to bother turning up. Evidence for their reasons was never required simply because I was not required by law to request any. However, once the jury pool dropped (it usually did) to 60 I did not allow any further call offs and everyone who phoned me was told they need to attend, and if they had a valid reason and proof they could show it to the court clerk on the morning they attended.

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      If I tell them that I probably will research the case online and talk about it with my husband because that's how I am, will they probably excuse me? It is true because I am already trying to find out what trials are coming up so I can research them.

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      I have been summoned and though I am currently not working, I am the sole transportation for my grandmother in memory care for all of her appts. Where she lives the place is not required to bring her anywhere she needs to go, (which is baffling as she pays $7,000 a month for care). Losing a job was hard but with me doing all the errands for her and extra care, it meant other family members didn't have to take off work for her anymore. The date I have to go serve would be the date of one of her medical appts. Is this a valid excuse to get out of jury duty?

    • profile image

      Grant Ota 

      7 months ago

      I will be on vacation from December 28 to January 2 be back on Thursday.

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      Hi, like Scott, I am another graveyard shifter and to work 10 hours till 6am and then drive an hour down the mountain to get home and have to try to stay awake for god knows how long when I’m usually in bed by 7am would be extremely difficult. Would this be a valid excuse?

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      I was called every year sometimes twice. I was selected the last time, ten years back, and they asked if anyone had problems with defendant pleading the fifth, I said yes and they cleared the jury pool to talk to me privately. Held my position and they dismissed me. Never been called back since. Maybe permanently taken off the list?

    • profile image


      9 months ago

      I forgot to call and its been a month. What can i do now

    • profile image

      Zach K 

      9 months ago

      Ok. So my issue is not serving; my issue is that I live in an area where it will require a 2 hour travel commitment to get to the place they want me to serve. There is a court house 20 minutes from my house. Why can’t they assign people, tax paying people who have no business downstate (because they vote where they live) to serve in there districts or areas in which they live?? And pay TAXES!!

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      I have been summoned to serve on a grand jury for a period of months. I need to miss 2 days to take my daughter to visit colleges. Do you think they will allow it?

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      Can i get out of JD if my fiances family member dies

    • Wolfy profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate Daily 

      13 months ago from California

      I completely understand your frustration Linda. You're certainly right that there would likely be a lot of volunteers while many others have very good reasons for not being able to accommodate that type of incursion into their daily lives. Good luck to you!

    • profile image

      Linda A. 

      14 months ago

      Why are we PESTERED with being forced to do Hury duty?????? I couldn’t care less about this , want absolutely no part of it. I’m sure they could find enough busy body people about town that would love to volunteer so they can be in the loop on all the gossip about town. We should have the right to REFUSE. I don’t like being FORCED into ANYTHING.

    • profile image

      John W 

      14 months ago

      Would being on a certain type of prescription medication(s) preclude your ability to serve on a jury?

    • profile image

      Shaun C Moore 

      15 months ago

      What if im in a relastionship with a current inmate? And/or currently already out of state on vacation.?

    • Wolfy profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate Daily 

      15 months ago from California

      Generally not. In most states your employer is required to accommodate your jury service (in your case it'll probably involve time off so you can serve).

    • Wolfy profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate Daily 

      15 months ago from California

      Hi Molly! From what you told me, the best angle to take that I see is if you've paid for the work trip out of pocket and will not be able to get a refund on the trip. Especially if you'll need to re-book the trip after jury service and the added expense of paying twice is not something that you can afford and will cause a severe financial hardship on your family. In general, employers are required by law to accommodate jury duty. But if this trip is non-refundable and coming out of your pocket, you might have a chance.

    • profile image

      Molly Norton 

      15 months ago

      I served on jury duty 4-5 years ago. I work 2 jobs and will be traveling from New Mexico to NYC for at least a week for work during one of the weeks of my session. I am not going to be able to cancel the trip. Are either of those legitimate reasons for me to be unable to serve?

    • profile image


      15 months ago

      If I work nights and don’t get done until 4-5am, will that a legitimate excuse to not serve?

    • Wolfy profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate Daily 

      15 months ago from California

      Thank you Astrid, I'm glad you found the information you needed! Good luck!

    • Astrid McClymont profile image

      Astrid McClymont 

      16 months ago from Glasgow, Scotland

      This is SO useful. Thank you!

    • Wolfy profile imageAUTHOR

      Kate Daily 

      16 months ago from California

      Generally, the courts will simply provide you with a translator. They typically have many translators on hand for quite a few different languages.

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      What about those mother tongue is not English and they are very poor speaking and understanding English,specially at the time of court hearing ?

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      We are self employed with my husband. Running small trucking business. Work hard, no hired people. Have obligations to pay almost 15,000 a month in order to keep running. Judge refused to provide excuse from jury duty. How can I convince them? My week absence will put us in bankruptcy. We are already balancing at the edge.

    • profile image

      Pam gomez 

      17 months ago

      I get really bad anxiety and i start shaking and getting nervous and it gets the better of me, therefore i will not be able to be honest or fair. Will that excuse me from being picked as a juror?

    • profile image


      17 months ago

      I'm a heavy pot smoker 7 days a week. My thoughts and let alone judgement would be clouded and impaired to say the least.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      2 years 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 

      2 years 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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