Fort Lauderdale Misdemeanor Charges Could Follow Skipped Jury Duty

Those who skip out on jury duty could be facing a misdemeanor in Fort Lauderdale.
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Fort Lauderdale misdemeanor defense is frequently important. In the past, people have tended to view jury duty as an option. Now, though, court officials in Broward have started a separate docket to deal solely with people who don’t show up for jury duty.

FL Statute Chapter 40 spells out the requirements of jurors. Under these laws, people who don’t show up to jury duty can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined a maximum of $500 and serve six months in jail.

It’s a statute that is rarely enforced – until now. Prior to this, it was typically up to the individual judges to decide what action to take when jurors failed to execute their duty.

The Broward Clerk of Courts reported that an average of 300 to 400 people are called to show up to jury duty every single day. Of those, only about 60 percent actually go.

The majority of the rest usually let officials know beforehand that they won’t make it. There is always the option to reschedule if the date does not work, or if there is a reasonable excuse why they can’t be there. Those reasons can include anything from transportation issues, child care problems or financial hardships.

One case outlined by the newspaper involved a 33-year-old single mother from Hollywood. She had reportedly not shown up seven different times. While she told the judge she has children and no transportation, the judge still gave her a fine of $250 and a requirement that she show up for jury duty next month. He chose not to give her jail time.

The Broward Clerk was quoted as saying the office tries to be understanding and work with people who have conflicting schedules. She characterizes those being prosecuted as individuals who have crossed the line into abuse of that leniency.

While a misdemeanor may seem minor, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys understand that the fines alone can create a financial hardship, not to mention the time missed from work. It’s also a stain no one wants on their permanent record. For this reason, a number of individuals said they planned to fight the charges.

On individual who was called to answer for her absence told the newspaper that on the first date, her underage daughter was having a cancer biopsy. On the second date, she was in the hospital with pneumonia. Because she works in the sales industry, she is being forced to miss yet another day’s work to have a bench trial. Still, she says it is worth it because taking prosecutorial action against her is unfair.

We certainly understand how important it is for people to do their civic duty in giving their time to serve on a jury. Indeed, the criminal justice system would be halted without it. However, there are times when the reasons for not showing up are valid, and the court needs to take that into careful consideration.

If you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach, contact The Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert at 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

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