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Can I Go to Jail for Missing Jury Duty in California?

Once an American citizen living in California turns 18 years old, he/she becomes eligible for jury duty once every 12 months. While receiving a notice in the mail doesn't mean you will automatically serve as a juror in a criminal or civil case, it does mean you have an obligation to appear.

However, most people are not excited about being selected for jury duty. In fact, some fail to show up to jury duty after they received a notice.

Unfortunately, missing jury duty without an excuse can lead to criminal charges. Under California law, failure to appear could lead to being charged with contempt of court, which is punishable by a maximum five-day jail sentence and a fine of up to $1,000.

On the other hand, if you have a valid reason for missing jury duty, the courts and judges will typically allow you to postpone or reschedule your date. Postponement is generally granted once in a one-year period.

Common valid reasons to postpone your jury duty date include:

  • You are a student
  • You have suffered an injury that requires medical treatment
  • You are on vacation
  • You have personal commitments that cannot be rescheduled

Additionally, you could miss jury duty if you could explain it would create an undue hardship. Common examples of undue hardship include being mentally or physically impaired, going to court is an extreme financial burden, you don't have access to transportation, and you are a caretaker for a dependent individual.

If you have missed jury duty in Ventura County, contact Wilfert Law P.C. today at 805-324-6777 to let us help you avoid criminal penalties.