Receiving a jury duty summons in the mail is an anxiety-inducing event for most people. When you receive a summons for jury duty, you may have to put other parts of your life on hold. This may include missing work, canceling your plans, or rescheduling appointments to attend jury selection.
Plus, a jury duty summons does not guarantee that you will be called to serve, so there is a lot of uncertainty.
This article clarifies what jury duty is, who is eligible for jury duty, and why you should not skip jury duty.
What Is Jury Duty?
Jury duty is an obligation to appear for jury service. When you receive a jury duty summons, you may not have to appear as a juror, but you do have to be available for the jury selection process.
As a United States citizen, you have the right to a jury trial in a civil or criminal proceeding. This gives you the opportunity to have your case heard and decided by a fair cross-section of the community.
As a result, there is a jury selection process in place that includes summoning citizens for jury duty.
Who Can Be Chosen for Jury Duty?
As an Illinois resident, you are eligible for jury service if
- You are a United States citizen;
- Are at least 18 years of age;
- Are a resident in the county where you receive a summons;
- Do not have a pending lawsuit against you in the county where the case is being tried; and
- Are able to read, write, and understand English
There are no educational requirements to qualify for jury duty.
What Should I Do When I Get a Jury Summons?
When you get a jury summon, you are expected to show up on the requested date. Your summons will tell you where to show up and what time to get there. Many counties allow you to call the night before to make sure that you are still required to attend.
Once you are there, you will be asked to take an oath in which you will promise to answer all questions truthfully. You will then be asked questions that will determine whether you are going to be selected as a juror. The jury selection process often takes one day but can be longer in some circumstances.
You will be expected to dress appropriately for the courtroom and leave all items at home that the court does not allow. You can find a list of restricted items on your court’s website.
How Can I Get Out of Jury Duty?
You can either postpone your jury summons for a later date, or if you qualify, you may get out of jury duty altogether.
During the selection process, a judge may ask if you have any hardships that would prevent you from serving on jury duty. These may include issues with childcare, serious health concerns (such as a traumatic brain injury), and vacations that you have already paid for.
The judge has the discretion to excuse you from jury duty due to a qualifying hardship.
What Happens if I Don’t Show Up for Jury Duty?
While many people do not want to skip a day of work or cancel their plans for jury duty, you should never skip jury duty.
If you do not show up for jury duty when you receive a summons, you can be held in contempt of court. This can result in receiving fines or spending time in jail.
If you have additional questions about jury duty, you can reach out to a qualified attorney who can advise you on your rights and responsibilities.