Criminal Law Advice
Attorney Lauren Thomas from Sinsheimer & Associates provides her weekly Criminal Law Advice.
You think jury duty sucks? Getting arrested for skipping jury duty sucks more.
I have talked a lot on this site about juries but always as related to the defendant. So, I thought I would talk a little about those of you who may get summonsed for jury duty.
If you get a summons in the mail for jury duty, DO NOT IGNORE IT.
You thought the court wouldn’t notice if you didn’t show up—I mean there are enough other people there, right? Guess what. Half the jury pool thought the same thing. Throughout the country jury duty evaders have become a very big problem for the courts. In some busy courts it takes more than one day to pick a jury because on the first day the court runs out of potential jurors. This means that: 1. court cases take longer; 2. the jurors picked on the first day get stuck an extra day on a case; and 3. it can cause the court to have to bump other cases. Some courts finally decided that they had enough so they started issuing criminal complaints.
I understand that most people find the idea of jury duty onerous and inconvenient. I will skip all the admonishments about how it is your right and duty to serve on a jury and how our constitutional protections providing a right to trial by a jury of their peers can’t happen without a jury. But just think how more inconvenient it will be when you get a summons in the mail saying that you are being charged in a criminal complaint.
You may think, “That’s stupid. I’m not going to court on a criminal case for skipping jury duty.” So, you don’t go. Now a warrant issues for your arrest. I am not aware of any cases in which the police actually went out and arrested people for skipping jury duty. However, what will happen is say you are stopped for speeding. The officer will run your name for warrants. Guess what—you have a warrant out for your arrest. Still unlikely that the police will arrest you for that but they will tell you that you are required to go to the court the next morning to clear it up. That puts a wrench in your schedule.
Having a warrant out can affect license renewal and any other registration paperwork that has to be filed with the State for anything (liquor license, hunting license, etc.). So you go apply for any of these and they won’t give it to you until you clear up the warrant.
So, what do you have to do to “clear it up.” Go to the courthouse, wait around forever until someone can help you and you can be brought before the judge who will dismiss the case against you…..once you sign up for a day to come back for jury duty!