21 Nov 23

What happens if I don’t show up for jury duty in California?

| by

What Happens If I Don’t Show Up for Jury Duty in California?

Jury duty is a civic responsibility that all eligible citizens may be called upon to fulfill. However, many people try to avoid serving on a jury for various reasons. In California, ignoring a jury summons can have serious consequences. Here’s an overview of what can happen if you don’t show up for jury duty in California.

You Can Be Held in Contempt of Court

If you fail to appear for jury duty after receiving a summons, the court may issue a contempt order. This means you could face civil or criminal contempt charges for defying the court’s authority.The jury commissioner will first send you a failure to appear notice. This gives you another chance to call and reschedule your service within a certain timeframe, usually 5 to 10 days. If you still do not respond, the court can issue an order to show cause for contempt of court.At your hearing, you‘ll have to provide a lawful excuse for missing jury duty. Valid reasons may include a medical emergency, death in the family, or lack of transportation. If the judge finds your excuse inadequate, you could be held in contempt.The maximum penalty for contempt is $1,500 and/or up to 5 days in jail. However, judges rarely impose jail time for a first offense. You’ll more likely receive a fine, which increases for repeat violations.

You May Be Ordered Back to Jury Duty

In addition to contempt charges, the court can order you to report for jury service again. The judge may give you a specific date to appear, such as the following week.If you miss a second time, the court can issue a body attachment order. This directs law enforcement to detain you and bring you before the judge. The court will not withdraw the order until you appear for jury duty.

It Can Affect Your Driver’s License

Under California law, the DMV must suspend your driver’s license if you ignore a jury summons. The court will notify the DMV, which will send you a letter about the pending suspension.You’ll have 10 days to request a hearing to contest the suspension. Otherwise, you won’t be able to drive legally in California until you provide proof that you appeared for jury service.

You May Be Disqualified from Future Jury Service

If you repeatedly fail to show up for jury duty, the court can report you to the jury commissioner. The commissioner may then permanently disqualify you from the jury pool in that county.While not a criminal penalty, being barred from future jury service means you’ll lose your chance to participate in the judicial process. It also eliminates a civic duty that many Americans appreciate.

Outstanding Warrants Can Prevent You From Clearing a DUI

If you missed jury duty and have an outstanding warrant, you cannot get your license reinstated if it was suspended for a DUI conviction. California requires you to resolve any pending warrants before the DMV will reinstate your driving privileges after a DUI offense.This creates a catch-22 where your license remains suspended until you clear the warrant, but you risk arrest by driving to the courthouse. Consider hiring a lawyer to recall the warrant so you can complete your DUI requirements.

You May Be Arrested on Your Warrant During a Routine Traffic Stop

In addition to preventing DUI reinstatement, an outstanding warrant for failure to appear can lead to arrest during a minor traffic stop.If a police officer pulls you over for speeding or another violation, they’ll check your name for warrants as part of the routine background check. The warrant will show up even if it’s from a different county.The officer has discretion to arrest you on the warrant or issue another notice to appear. For minor infractions like missed jury duty, they typically won‘t take you to jail. But you‘ll still have to deal with the inconvenience of being detained until the warrant check clears.

It Will Show Up on Criminal Background Checks

Any outstanding warrants related to missed jury duty will be visible on criminal background checks. Most employers, landlords, schools, volunteer organizations, and lenders conduct background checks on applicants and tenants.While a warrant for jury non-appearance is not a major infraction, it could still raise concerns and hurt your chances with prospective employers or landlords. It’s best not to let it get to the warrant stage at all.

You May Be Ineligible for Government Aid Programs

Certain government programs also run background checks that would show an outstanding warrant for ignoring jury duty. For instance, you may be denied eligibility for housing assistance, food stamps, unemployment benefits, or other social services.Any interaction with law enforcement could put these benefits in jeopardy until you clear up the warrant. Taking care of it early prevents jeopardizing your aid.