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Bay Area Criminal Defense Blog

Can Failing to Show Up For Jury Duty Land You in Jail?

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | May 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

Most people don't like to open their mailbox to find a jury summons. Jury duty can be a major pain in the neck. It requires you to take time off work, to get up early just to circle the courthouse looking for jury parking. In most cases, jury service just means showing up to the courthouse, listenting to instructions and waiting around for half the day, just to be told that you won't be needed after all. In Alameda County, many residents have simply ignored their jury duty summons.

According to a recent CBS San Francisco report, Alameda County has one of the worst no-show rates for jurors in the Bay Area. In Marin County, nearly 95% of residents called for jury duty will show up to the courthouse for jury service. In San Francisco, the number of “jury dodgers” goes up to about 20 percent. But in Alameda County, 68% of residents called for jury duty don't bother showing up.

Brendan Woods, the Chief Public Defender of Alameda County describes those who fail to show as “frequent flyers.” Woods defends the current jury duty system as, “still the best system. Just making it fair and diverse, that's the problem.” With such a high rate of absenteeism, the diversity of Alameda County may not be represented in the jury pool.

Woods suggests that by requiring employers to pay for jury service, more people may show up to jury duty. In response to the low turnout, Alameda County may be implementing a new penalty system for “frequent flyers.” Under the law, a Failure to Appear for jury service notice can actually result in a contempt of court hearing, fines or even imprisonment. In reality, punishment and penalties are rarely enforced.

However, before responding to a call that you may owe fines for failure to appear for jury duty, the Alameda County Superior Court has issued an alert about a nationwide jury duty scam. In Alameda and across the country, scam artists are calling people, often posing as a Sheriff's officer, to say that they failed to show up for jury duty, and have been assessed a fine. The caller threatens there is a warrant for their arrest, and they must pay the fine over the phone via pre-paid debit card.

Accoding the the court, they will never contact people by phone to make payments for failing to appear for jury notice. Instead, they will send a Failure to Appear notice by mail. If a warrant is subsequently issued, the court will not give you a warning by phone. While the potential for fines and a warrant for failing to show up for jury duty are real, don't be taken in by con artists trying to get you to make a payment over the phone.

At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people facing criminal charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the local DUI and other criminal laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve. Contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for 30 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense.

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