How often can you be summoned for jury duty in California? What happens if you miss it?

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American citizens play a role in the country’s democratic process by serving on a jury — but how often can someone be called to serve?

Here’s what the Judicial Council of California told us on what you should know about a jury summons:

Who is qualified to be a juror?

California law states you are qualified to be a juror if you are:

  • A U.S. citizen

  • At least 18 years old

  • Can understand enough English to discuss the case

  • A resident of the county that sent the summons

  • Have not served on a jury in the past 12 months

  • Not already on a grand or trial jury

  • Not under a conservatorship

  • Not in jail or prison

  • Not on parole or probation for a felony

  • Not registered as a sex offender

  • Convicted of wrongdoing while in public office and have not had your civil rights restored

How often are you called for jury duty in California?

Blaine Corren, a spokesperson for the Judicial Council of California, said individuals can be summoned for jury duty once a year (every 12 months).

“All potential jurors are selected at random from lists,” Corren wrote in an email to The Bee.

To compile these lists, Corren said the courts use driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, tax filers through the Franchise Tax Board and local voter registration.

“It is possible that some people may be summoned more or less often than others, but that greatly depends on many factors,” Corren said.

These factors can include the size of their local court, the size of their court’s population area and how many jury trials their court may have scheduled, Corren said.

Once someone has received a jury summons, Corren said they should follow the instructions on the summons.

For questions relating to a summons, Corren said anyone can contact their local court.

Can I be penalized for missing my jury duty summons?

If a person has missed their service, Corren said the local court will typically try to contact them by mail to find out why they did not show and reschedule them for another service date.

You must report for jury duty unless you do not meet qualifications, have been excused or your service was postponed, according to the California Courts website.

When you receive a summons, there will be instructions on the notice you can follow to communicate your eligibility.

“Any person who fails to respond may be fined up to $1,500, incarcerated, or both,” the website states.

Keyword: may.

Depending on a person’s circumstances and legal factors, Corren said fines can be dismissed under California Rule of Court, Rule 2.1010.

“While the law does permit courts to impose sanctions and/or issue a finding of contempt, this happens rarely, if ever, because courts want to encourage people to serve and accommodate their schedule,” Corren wrote.

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