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What To Do If You’ve Been Called For Jury Duty

What to Do if You've Been Called For

Did you know that only about 15% of U.S. citizens get summoned for jury service? Moreover, only 5% of those people actually end up on a jury. Serving on a jury is a rare responsibility so it is not a surprise that most people do not know a lot about the process.

In this post, we answer some of the most common questions that prospective jurors might have once they receive a call for jury service. Read on to learn more.

What Does It Mean To Be “Called For” Jury Duty?

Being “called for” or “summoned” means you have been selected as a potential juror. In many cases, a court will call on members of the community to determine the verdict of a matter.

As a U.S. citizen, if you are called for jury service and get chosen, you will be responsible for reporting for duty and listening to a case with an open mind if chosen.

Federal and municipal courts may contact you for jury duty on one of two types of judicial proceedings:

  1. Criminal Trial: You will join 11 other people for a total criminal jury of 12 (with up to 6 alternates). As a jury member, you will listen as the prosecution and defense present their cases through evidence and witnesses, then you and your fellow jurors will decide the verdict on whether a person accused of committing a crime is guilty or not guilty. In criminal trials, the jury must come to a unanimous decision beyond any reasonable doubt.
  2. Civil Trial: You will join at least six other people to decide how to resolve a legal dispute between two private parties. Again, you will hear both sides of the case and determine if either party proved its case. The amount of proof in civil cases is based on a preponderance of evidence, which means more likely true than not true.

When you are on a jury, you are not deciding if the plaintiff or defendant is a good person or not. The important thing is to evaluate the evidence for that specific case.

How Does a Person Get Called for Jury Duty?

Courts randomly select citizens for jury duty. They pick names from lists of registered voters within a certain district. The court will then send a summons to the people that were randomly selected.

Once in Court, potential jurors may fill out a questionnaire that will help the court determine whether the selected person is a good fit to serve on a jury. For example, an individual’s answers may reveal how much they know about marginalized groups or if they have a conflict of interest.

How to Know If You’ve Been Called for Jury Duty

If you’ve been called for jury duty, you will receive a letter from an official court. Remember that US courts will not contact members of the public for jury service by phone or email. Anyone claiming to be affiliated with federal courts requesting personal information may be running a juror scam. You can avoid the harm caused by these criminals by remembering the courts will only contact you via mail.

What Happens If You Don’t Want to Go?

Skipping jury duty may result in dire consequences. Depending on the local court’s rules, a judge may hold you in contempt of court. You could end up paying fines or serving jail time. If you believe you have a legitimate reason to skip jury duty, consider getting advice from a reliable legal expert.

Will Jury Service Happen on Weekdays or Weekends?

Jury duty usually happens on business days during the week. Judges rarely determine that a weekend or holiday is appropriate for court proceedings, although it is possible.

How Many Days Off Does a Person Need to Take for Jury Service?

The time off of work you will need depends on the case. In some states, employers with more than 10 workers must pay wages for a person’s first three days of jury duty. However, employees must notify their employers before they begin their jury duty.

Contact Rossetti & DeVoto, P.C. for More Information

Experienced lawyers can help you navigate the New Jersey court system if you have been called for jury duty. Perhaps you have prior commitments, but you are worried about potential fines or jail time for missing duty. Contact us for help resolving your situation!

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