Is It Possible To Get Out of Jury Duty in Philadelphia?
Ryan Zavodnick | September 26, 2022 | Personal Injury
For those that meet the requirements, jury duty is a civil service that helps ensure the justice system works fairly and equally.
Every day, hundreds of Philadelphians receive a jury summons in the mail to serve in civil and criminal trials. While some cases may only last one or two days, others may be complex and last weeks and even longer. As a result, many people across Pennsylvania wonder if it’s possible to get out of jury service.
If you’ve been summoned for jury duty in Philadelphia, learn more about how you can request to be excused.
What Is Jury Service?
Jury service is an essential court process where members from the community are selected at random to appear in court, sit in during a trial, listen to the evidence, and collectively reach a verdict and award damages, if applicable.
In Philadelphia County, people who meet the following criteria are eligible for jury service:
- Reside in Philadelphia County
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have the ability to read, write, and speak English
- Be physically and mentally capable of basic juror functions
- Have no felony convictions that resulted in imprisonment for one year or more
Anyone who meets these basic requirements is generally included in the county’s juror pool and may be summoned at any time. Philadelphia County obtains contact information for potential jurors from DMV records and state voting registrations.
Jury Service in Philadelphia
When you receive a Philadelphia jury summons, you’ll be asked to fill out and submit a juror questionnaire within five days. Failure to respond can result in a $500 fine and even jail time.
Depending on what type of court you are summoned to, the selection process may vary slightly, but both criminal and civil cases in Philadelphia rely on voir dire to select jurors from a larger pool.
During voir dire, attorneys may ask you to answer questions or share your opinion on case-related topics. If an attorney suspects bias, they can strike a juror and request they be sent home.
Jurors are eliminated over time until a final selection is made.
Valid Reasons To Get Out of Jury Duty
Jury duty is an important civil service. But for many Philadelphia residents, schedules, work, family life, and other hardships can make serving on a jury demanding.
Pennsylvania courts will allow the following people to be excused from jury service:
- Active military personnel
- Those who have served on a jury in the past three years
- Those who can demonstrate extreme hardship or inconvenience
- Family members of homicide victims
- Those who have served a full term on a statewide grand jury
- Citizens 75 years or older
- State and federal judges
- Breastfeeding women
When you satisfy any of the conditions for jury service exception, you must submit a request through the mail. Depending on your unique situation, you may have to show the court proof to validate your excuse.
Some common examples of hardship exemptions include:
- Financial hardships
- Difficulty with transportation
- Certain mental health or physical conditions
- Natural disaster
- Death in the family
If you want to serve on the jury but can’t during the time you’ve been summoned, you can also ask for a postponement. Postponements can be requested through the mail or on the Philadelphia jury service website.
What Happens If You Skip Jury Duty?
Failing to respond to a jury service summons in Philadelphia is considered criminal contempt. Not only do you face criminal charges, but you could also have to pay a hefty fee.
If you receive a jury summons, you should respond immediately and not wait until it’s too late. A timely response will help you avoid any problems down the road.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Philadelphia Today To Get Help With Your Case
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our personal injury lawyers at Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers we are available 24/7 by calling (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.
You can also visit our law firm at 123 S Broad St #1220, Philadelphia, PA 19109.