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How to Get out of Jury Duty: Complete Guide

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As you flip through your mail, you come across an envelope with a Federal seal. The first thought that crosses your mind is that the IRS is looking for you, and a feeling of panic and anxiety starts to build in your chest.

However, it turns out its nothing more than one of those annoying jury duty notices. In America, reporting for jury duty is your commitment as a citizen of the country, and avoiding it can come with some severe penalties.

There’s nothing more irritating than the thought of wasting your time sitting in a jury box listening to some over-priced lawyer rant on about the innocence of their client. As a busy person, time is your most valuable asset, and all you can see is dollar signs floating out of the window with the thought of reporting to the courts.

Well, at least the taxman wasn’t looking for you after all.

Failing to report to court can land you in some serious trouble. You might end up with a steep fine, and there’s also the possibility of the court sentencing you to up to 2-years of jail time on charges of contempt of court.

There’s no way to get out of jury duty – Or is there?

If you don’t feel like wasting your time reporting for jury duty, then there are some practical and effective methods you can use to get out of it without breaking the law.

Claim Economic Hardship

In most states across the U.S, you can get out of jury duty by proving that serving will end up costing you financial hardship, and a loss of income. However, you’ll need to bring supporting documentation with you to the court to prove your claim. The court will look over your wage slips, as well as your bank account, to determine the cost to you of serving on the jury.

Other vital documentation to bring along with you includes your annual financial statement, your tax returns, and your proof of employment. If you run a business, or you’re self-employed, then it might be easier for you to use this excuse, especially if you are the only employee in your company, and you rely on your presence to make an income.

However, it’s rare for the court to grant exemptions based on financial hardship, and if the court does decide you have to serve anyway, then there’s nothing you can do to avoid it, and you’ll have to attend.

It’s also crucial that you don’t lie about your financial situation. If the judge thinks your lying and can prove it, then you might find yourself dealing with obstruction of justice or perjury charge that has severe legal consequences.

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Request a Date Change

All local, state, and federal jury selections feature a computerized process. Your name will eventually reach the top of a list, and the computer will send an automated jury notice to your registered address they have on file.

If you want to get out of your jury duty obligations, then delay the process, and move to the back of the line by using the jury form to request special accommodations. Complete the part of the form for special accommodations, and state that you can’t make the required date.

You’ll need to include an explanation of why you can’t appear for jury duty. Use an excuse like you’re sick with a severe illness, your studying for exams, your leaving town on a trip, or you’re planning on signing up for the military.

Whatever excuse you use, make sure it’s legitimate. If the court contacts you, they’ll want to see the proof of your claim to ensure you aren’t lying to get out of attending your civic duty. If the court does accept your excuse, you can expect the system to put you at the back of the queue, giving you another year or two before you receive another jury duty notice in the mail.

Request Jury Duty in December

If the court does allow you to make a change in your jury duty date, ask for them to move it to December. During this time of the year, there’s a significant chance that the court cancels the hearing, or they shift it to another date the following year.

As a result, the court might never recall you if it’s responsible for changing the date, and you’ll still fulfill your civic duty, even though you never have to go to court.

Push the Date Forward

The second-best option for changing your jury duty date is to move it forward, rather than backward. If the date is too close, then it’s likely that the lawyers conducting the jury selection will already have their candidates ready to go, and you won’t have to attend the proceedings.

As a result, your name will return to the bottom of the selection list, or you might not ever have to serve jury duty at all.

Claim Student Status

Most states will excuse full-time subtends from their jury duty obligations. California is one of the few states that doesn’t recognize this excuse. However, even if you live in California, there are ways around this exemption.

If you receive a jury duty notice, ask to move the date to your next vacation break during the spring, summer, or winter. The court call-center can authorize this date change, even if you’re beyond the 1-year limit for postponement. The call-center will likely remind you that this is your final date change.

Some states will also exempt students that are studying online courses as well.

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Appear Subjective

When you arrive at court and take a seat in the jury selection room, the defense and prosecution will interview all of the potential jurors. There are various ways you can use the questioning process to avoid selection for a trial.

Your beliefs play a central role in your selection. You can use this to create uncertainty and doubt of your efficacy as a juror in the minds of the attorneys. For instance, you might say that you lost your faith in the criminal justice system after seeing OJ Simpson walk free.

You could also make a statement where you say that you don’t believe that it’s possible to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecuting attorney won’t like this statement, and they might excuse you from the jury selection process.

You could also claim that your son, friend, or relative is in a similar position as the client on trial, and you don’t believe that they should face prosecution for their actions. The prosecuting team won’t like this statement, and they’re likely to dismiss you from the proceedings.

Act Stubbornly or Appear Smart

The court requires the prosecution to prove a water-tight case to obtain a conviction. If you act as if you already know everything about the case, and you already made up tour mind about the defendant’s guilt or innocence, then the legal teams are likely to dismiss you for your arrogant behavior.

Another excellent tactic to use is to appear smart, showing your intelligence and ability for critical thinking. Prosecuting and defense attorneys rely on molding the minds of jurors to their opinion during the trial. If they feel that you are a free-spirit, and you think for yourself, then they are likely to dismiss you because they might struggle to manipulate your opinion.

Mention Veto Rights

After selecting you for jury duty, the presiding judge asks you to swear that you will reach a verdict on the case based on the merits of the facts presented to you in court by the prosecution and defense teams.

If you decide to refuse to swear to this commitment, you can tell the judge that it’s the jury’s right to find a verdict as they see fit. This veto right is known as “jury nullification,” and while it’s a right of the juror, the prosecution and the court don’t like to entertain jurors that decide to execute on this veto right.

The George Carlin Technique

If you’re running out of options, then you can always try the “George Carlin Technique” as a last-ditch effort to get a dismissal from the case. George Carlin was a famous comedian that focused his sets on complaining about the government and politicians.

Tell the judge that you’ll make an excellent juror, because you have an intuitive skill of guessing if the person is guilty or not, by merely looking at their face. This kind of blind justice is not what the courts are looking for, and the judge might excuse you from jury duty.

Jurors

Act Hostile toward the Government and the Judiciary Process

You can also claim that you don’t believe in the judicial system, and sending people to prison., You can make the argument that all prosecutors are looking to convict people to turn them over to the prison-industrial complex.

Mention that you believe the privatized prison system is a form of forced labor designed to trap Americans. The judge may ask you other questions to make sure that these are your beliefs and not something you watched on a YouTube video, so prepare by reading up on some facts relating to your statement.

The Risks of Intentionally Trying to Avoid Jury Duty

You need to take things seriously when trying to get out of jury duty. If you decide to create some wild on-the-spot claim, there’s a good chance the judge could find you in contempt of court, and issue you with a large fine. In cases where the judge thinks you’re trying to make a mockery of his or her court, and the judiciary system, they have the right to sentence you to a jail term of up to 2-years.

While jail time is a rare occurrence, it is a possibility. The last thing you want is to end up behind bars for years because you were trying to escape 2-weeks of jury duty.

For instance, if you’re going to be a juror in a trial involving vehicular manslaughter, you might start a rant at the judge claiming how you think all cars are death machines. The judge will see through your weak excuse, and possibly charge you with contempt.

If you do decide to take on one of the methods outlined in this article in court, make sure you make the necessary preparations. If the judge thinks you’re lying to them, they could also hit you with a perjury charge, which also comes with jail time.

If you’re struggling to come up with a valid excuse to get out of attending jury duty, perhaps you should bite the bullet and attend. After all, it’s only a few weeks, and then you won’t ever have to worry about it again. Do the right thing and complete your civic duty.

Wrapping Up –Key Takeaways

By now, you should have an understanding of what it takes to get out of jury duty. It’s no easy task to avoid your civic responsibilities, but if you do decide to make a gambit on getting out of your commitment, here’s a quick wrap up of the key takeaways mentioned in this article.

  • Change the Date – Try to move your jury duty date to the December period, or closer to the current date.
  • Act Like an Expert – Prosecutors and defense attorneys don’t like it if they think they can’t manipulate you.
  • Show Bias – The legal teams don’t like it when prospective jurors show bias toward either side of the case, and they’ll dismiss you.
  • Display a Bad Attitude – Judges and attorneys don’t want you showing a bad attitude against the judiciary system.
  • Display Critical Thinking – Lawyers hate critical thinkers, and if you show that it’s less likely for them to manipulate your thought process, they’ll end up dismissing you from the jury.
  • Show Enthusiasm – Enthusiastic jurors make lawyers think you’re looking to play judge yourself, and they’re likely to dismiss you from the case.
  • Avoid Making False Claims – Never lie openly in court, or make false claims in front of the judge, you could end up paying for it with jail time.
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Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased reporting.oliver@moneycheck.com


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