If you’ve missed jury duty in Houston or the surrounding areas, talk to the Law Office of David A. Breston for help with your next steps. As a U.S. citizen, one of our duties is to attend court to judge a case on trial, but what happens when a person doesn’t show up for jury duty? The consequences vary depending on the situation. If a person misses a court-ordered jury duty date in Texas, there are a few things that can happen and much depends on the type of court that summoned the individual.
If a person doesn’t appear for his or her federal jury summons, a government marshal may seize the person, put him or her before the court, where the courts will ask the person to show cause, or provide a good reason, for the absence.
If the courts don’t deem the cause as a worthy enough reason to miss the summons, that person will face the possibility of three days in jail, a fine up to $100, or both.
Though missing small claims court may seem like it should be a lesser penalty, the state still takes it seriously. When someone misses court-summoned jury duty in a Texas municipal court, the penalty is the same as the federal jury consequences, which could be three days in jail, a fine of up to $100, or both.
Missing county or district court jury summons carries a more significant penalty than others. The fine begins at $100 and can go up to $1,000. Missing county or district jury summonses in Texas may mean a person is in contempt of court, which carries a sentence of up to six months in jail.
The situations above are worst-case scenarios. Many people who skip jury duty do so mistakenly and don’t suffer any consequences, though that’s not the case for everyone. Take Margaret Young, for example, a Montgomery County special education teacher who received national attention after she skipped her jury summons in 2013 and had to go to jail as a result.
Young had initially postponed her April 1 summons and was told to reappear April 29. The court then changed the summons to the following day, April 30, which was the same date as a Houston-area event honoring cancer survivors that Young wanted to support.
While she did “show cause,” it wasn’t enough for Judge Kelly Case, who signed a warrant for her arrest. Young went to jail without bail for a couple of hours before another judge intervened.
Courts often will not spend the time, effort, or resources to fine and jail people who skip their summonses, but it’s a serious risk. If a person skips his or her court-ordered jury summons, nothing is likely to happen to them, but there is a chance it will. It’s best to attend any court summons on time and inappropriate attire, but sometimes situations make it impossible. You don’t want to suffer Young’s fate; the court made an example of her even after it switched the dates it had mandated she come.
If you missed a court appearance, talk to our team for advice about your specific case. We can explain the possible repercussions. We can also figure out how to make things right in the eyes of the Texas courts. The team at the Law Office of David A. Breston have helped many people who have missed jury summons, courts dates, and other crucial deadlines. Don’t panic before you to talk to us — to learn more about our firm and attorneys, click here.