What happens if I miss jury duty in Texas? While being called in for jury duty can feel like an inconvenience and you may feel tempted to skip out, the right to trial by jury is an essential piece of the criminal justice system (and US Constitution) and can act as a guarantor of essential rights for all American residents.
As such, the attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm hope that you will take your jury summons seriously and we ask that you be the kind of fair-minded juror you would want to see in the stands if you were the one on trial. And you might as well because if you skip out you could face steep consequences that include fines and jail time — yes, jury duty is that important.
If you’re still tempted to ignore your jury duty summons, here is what can happen if you don’t show up for jury duty in Texas.
Is jury duty mandatory in Texas?
Citizens are required by law to appear for jury selection when called upon. Trial by jury is a vital part of the United State’s system of “checks and balances” that serves as a safeguard for the democratic process as well as other basic human rights.
As a juror, you have to be open-minded and cannot have any beliefs or experiences that could sway your judgment of the case. Juries are assembled for a variety of cases, and you could end up deliberating on any number of things, ranging from a DWI in Texas or assault and battery charges, all the way to a murder case and even sex crimes. Prospective jurors are put through a series of questions aimed to ensure that no serious biases exist. This is an essential step in working to create a jury selection that is made up of a group that can be fair-minded and neutral.
Who is eligible to serve on a jury in Texas?
People often ask “do pending court cases show up on background checks?” or “do they drug test for jury duty?” in hopes that they will not have to show up. They don’t drug test jurors — it would be incredibly inconvenient and expensive — but if you currently have a case pending you may be disqualified from serving on the jury.
There are some simple criteria that need to be met to serve as a juror. You must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a resident of the state AND county in which you are to serve
- Be qualified (registration not required) to vote in the county in which you are to serve
- Be of sound mind and good moral character
- Be able to read and write
- Not have served as a juror for six days during the last three months for county court or six months for a district court
- Not have been convicted of, or be under indictment or other legal accusation for misdemeanor theft or felony.
You do not need any special qualifications to be able to sit for jury duty, but if you currently have your own case you may be disqualified. Although if you’ve been charged with a major charge such as a felony DWI, you’ve got bigger fish to fry than worrying about appearing for jury duty.
Can I get out of jury duty in Texas?
You should never attempt to get out of jury duty — as previously stated, the courts will allow you to reschedule — but there are some factors for which you could be excused from jury duty such as physical or mental impairments, or inability to communicate effectively in English..
You can opt to not serve if you:
- Are over 70 years of age
- Are a student receiving secondary education, or in an institute of higher education
- Have a child under 12 and are not able to furnish supervision in your absence
- Are the primary caretaker of someone unable to care for themselves
- Are employed by the legislative branch of the US Government
- Are a member of US Military Forces currently serving away from home
- Have served as a juror in the last 24 months in a county of at least 200,000 people, and 36 months in a county of at least 250,000 people
If you know you can’t make it, most courts will allow you to reschedule your jury service online or over the phone. Reschedule your service as early as possible to avoid incurring penalties.
What happens if you don’t show up for jury duty in Texas?
You should never ignore a jury summons. If you need to reschedule the courts will be amenable as long as you actually show up for your future date.
If you don’t show up for jury duty the court may fine you anywhere between $100 and $1,000, and depending on the court in which you failed to appear, sentence you anywhere from 3 days – 6 months in jail. Jail time for missing jury duty is rare, as it is more often because of a mistake or a scheduling headache, but it remains a possibility nonetheless.
Remember that just because you receive a jury summons does not mean that you will be required to serve on a jury. You and the other prospective jurors that were summoned will go through voir dire (“to speak the truth” in Latin), a period of questioning by relevant counsel to select the most impartial group of jurors for the specific case. Statistically, it is unlikely that you will be picked, as county courts only require six jurors, and district courts twelve.
Don’t skip out on jury duty. The justice system needs your help.
What happens if I miss jury duty in Texas? You could, in a worst case scenario, be fined or jailed. Receiving a summons for jury duty is not a request and you do not have a choice as to whether or not you want to show up.
Citizens are required by law to participate in our legal system — which may be inconvenient at times, but serves to maintain civil liberties and protections for everyone in America. If you can’t make it, reschedule. The courts will work with you, and missing jury duty is not a risk you want to take.
Even if you don’t need an attorney today, you never know when you or a loved one could be accused of being on the wrong side of the law. Call Thiessen Law Firm at 713-864-9000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We specialize in defense for cases ranging from DWI to murder.
More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm:
- Types of Field Sobriety Tests
- DWI FAQ with DWI Expert Mark Thiessen
- What Happens if You Get Caught with a Fake ID in Texas?
- Can You Get a DWI Expungement Texas?
- How to Beat a DWI Charge