Jury duty is a right and a privilege, but there are some reasons people are excused from jury duty. Juries are an important part of the criminal justice system in America. They listen to the evidence presented by both the defense and the prosecution, talk about the case with each other and make a decision as to the guilt or innocence of the person on trial. Either side can dismiss individuals from the jury for any number of reasons.
One of the more common reasons people are excused from jury duty is because serving on the jury presents that person with an economic hardship. If you are the sole person working in your family, you usually cannot take time off work to serve on a jury. Even though you may receive some financial compensation, it does not equal your lost wages. Proving that serving will harm your family should get you dismissed.
During the jury selection process, both sides will ask prospective jurors about their personal thoughts and opinions. Anyone who has a strong opinion that relates to the case will generally receive a dismissal. For example, a potential juror might believe that women are bad drivers. In a case involving a female driver, the defense attorney will request that individual’s dismissal from the case. Most people excused from jury duty because of this reason have strong opinions that one or both sides think will not change over the course of the trial.
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One of the other reasons people are excused from jury duty is because of a felony conviction. When you receive a felony conviction, you will typically lose some of your civil rights, including your right to vote and your right to sit on a jury. When the jury selection process first begins, make sure that you inform both sides of your criminal record. This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get out of jury duty. Even if you can sit on a jury, you cannot serve on a jury if you have any pending felony charges against you.
The defense and prosecution will often dismiss prospective jurors because of family issues. They know that a juror concerned about his or her kids at home will have a harder time focusing on the details of the case. If you are a stay at home parent, you can show proof that you must be home with your children. This can include showing proof that you cannot afford a babysitter or that you have a child still nursing at home. Family issues that preclude you from serving on a jury can also include having a loved one currently in the hospital or the recent loss of a spouse or parent.
According to the United States Court, other reasons people are excused from jury duty include physical or mental disabilities. You must speak and understand enough English to fill out the jury forms, and you must also have the mental and physical capacities necessary to sit in the court, hear the attorneys and witnesses speak and make a decision on your own. United States Court points out that government workers, active duty military personnel, firefighters and police officers are exempt from jury duty too.
The government sends out jury duty notices to American citizens every day to keep the criminal justice system moving smoothly. Though you may worry about taking time away from work or being away from your kids, you can get out of jury duty. Physical and mental disabilities, family issues and personal opinions are some of the reasons people are excused from jury duty.