Jury Duty 101: Everything You Need to Know About Serving on a Jury

The day has finally come, you’ve received a jurors summons in the mail. Now, before you panic, we’re here to help. There are some simple things that you can do to prepare for jury duty so that you’re not caught off guard. Additionally, we will offer a brief explanation of how jury duty works, what to expect, and important factors to keep in mind. 

Continue reading to learn how to easily navigate the world of jury duty. If you’ve missed your jury appearance day and are concerned about any of the legal repercussions that you may be facing, contact our Springfield criminal defense attorneys at Missouri Legal today. 

Jury Duty in Missouri: How To Prepare

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The best way to stay on top of your game for jury duty is to follow some basic steps to ensure that everything has been taken care of before the “big day”. Here’s a general guideline of the steps you’ll want to take once you receive your summons letter in the mail:

  • Respond to your summons letter. Read your letter carefully, mark down the date, and respond if necessary. Most of the time when you’re summoned for jury duty, you will be sent a letter with a questionnaire that asks basic questions about yourself like your name, age, education, legal background, etc. In some cases, you’ll be required to mail this in before your summons date, or you’ll bring the questionnaire with you on the day you arrive. Be sure to follow the instructions as outlined in the letter. 
  • Plan ahead. If you know that you won’t be able to serve on the jury or make it on the day of your summons, you need to notify the courts immediately. Failure to do so will result in legal action. If you are planning on going, you’ll need to plan ahead by letting your employer know, securing a babysitter if necessary, and getting transportation.
  • Dress the part. Serving as a juror doesn’t require you to wear a suit. Many courts and experts suggest wearing business casual (think a dress shirt or blouse and slacks). Avoid wearing anything revealing, shorts, crop tops, or flip flops. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring a light jacket or sweater to layer over your clothing if you get cold during jury duty. 

How Jury Duty Works

On the day of your summons, you’ll need to arrive on time for your jury duty. From here, you will undergo the jury duty selection process. The criminal defense attorney in Springfield and the prosecutor may be particular about the jury selection process, so there is a real chance you’ll be let off the hook without even speaking to someone.

If you are selected as a member of the jury you will undergo another selection process. As this article states, this process is called voir dire (speak the truth) and can take several hours. Occasionally, depending on the type of case, jury selection may take days. 

At the Voir Dire, the judge and attorney will question people to determine their suitability for the particular case. Questions that may be asked, include, but are not limited to:

  • Your personal and professional background
  • Your opinions and/or experiences that could relate to the issues in the upcoming trial
  • If you have any connections to the case
  • If you know anyone involved in the case
  • You may ask to speak to the attorneys and judge privately if a personal issue arises concerning the case

Once selected as a jury member for the case, the judge will provide you with all details about the trial, lunches, and breaks as well as, when you need to be at court each day and when you can expect to leave.

Important Things To Remember about Jury Duty

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Even though you will be missing a few weeks (possibly months) to serve as a jury member in Missouri, you don’t have to worry about losing your job. Plus, you will be compensated for your time as a jury member since employers are not legally obligated to pay you while you serve on a jury. And, Missouri is one of the states in the nation that prohibits employers from requiring employees to use their leave—vacation, sick, or personal time—for jury duty.

You must show up to jury duty unless you have been legally excused from jury duty, for which you must have requested before your summons date. If you do not show up for jury duty, there are serious consequences and you could be charged with contempt of court, which carries large fines and potential jail time.

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