When you receive notice in the mail that you have been selected for jury duty, you may be frustrated. Many people view this as an inconvenience rather than their civic duty to protect the rights of citizens. Though you may be tempted to skip the date on your summons, after reading this blog, you’ll want to think again. The following blog explores whether or not jury duty is mandatory, the potential penalties you can expect if you fail to show up when summoned, and how Houston criminal defense attorneys can assist if you’re in legal trouble for missing jury duty.
What Is Jury Duty, and Is It Mandatory?
Jury duty is the obligation of eligible citizens to sit on the jury of a criminal or civil trial. In the United States, those accused of criminal activity are entitled to be tried by a jury of their peers. As such, it’s important to ensure you adhere to your summons to uphold the constitutional rights of others.
In Texas, jury duty is mandatory for eligible participants, unless they have reasons which disqualify them from serving. Similarly, you may be able to provide a personal excuse to the court. However, it is up to the court whether or not to grant this exception.
Those who possess any of the following characteristics are not eligible to serve:
- They are under 18 years old
- They are not a U.S. citizen
- They are not a resident of Texas or the county where they were called to serve
- They are ineligible to vote
- They cannot read or write
- They recently served on a jury
- They have been previously accused, indicted, or convicted of a felony
If I Don’t Go, What Can I Expect?
When you receive your summons in the mail, you must respond. Generally, you will go online to complete an online form where you will respond to the summons.
If you do not respond to the summons, do not appear in court, or deliberately create excuses to avoid being selected for jury duty, the courts reserve the right to charge you with contempt of court. As such, you can face a fine between $100 and $1,000. Though rare, you can also face three to six months in jail for this offense.
Though it may not seem like a big deal, ensuring you follow through with your duty to serve on a jury is essential to the legal system. If you are facing criminal charges, it’s imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to explore your options. At the Gonzalez Law Group, we understand how anxiety-inducing it can be to face charges. As such, we will do everything possible to help you through this process while fighting for the best possible outcome for your circumstances.