Love it or hate it, one of the things that many Americans get do once or twice in their lifetime is participate in jury duty. But, do felons get jury duty? It’s a question asked by many and this post tries to explain everything you need to know about jury duty as a convicted felon.
Major Points that are Covered:
- What is Jury Duty?
- How Jurors are Selected
- Felon Reinstatement of Rights
- Types of Disqualification
What is Jury Duty?
Felons have been known to serve on juries. To understand the process, you first have to define jury duty itself. Jury duty is a service performed in legal proceedings to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant. The service is undertaken in local and Federal court jurisdictions and is not a choice but required when notice is received for the assignment. If you receive notice, you can request a dismissal or extension, depending on your reason for the request.
Jury Duty – How It All Began
During the selection process for jurors, people called for jury duty are either chosen to serve or are dismissed. Employers cannot fire their employees who are called for the service. The service of jury duty goes back to the time of the writing of the Magna Carta.
In the U.S., jury duty was a process that was practiced prior to the drafting of the Constitution and the complementary Bill of Rights. Grand Juries were utilized in colonial times to assist in writing laws and to determine who should be put on trial.
How Jurors are Selected
If you have been convicted of a crime that was a felony, you usually will not or cannot be called for jury duty service. That is because the names for jury duty are drawn from a registrar of voters. Usually, felons cannot register to vote. Therefore, their names will not be included on a registrar list. However, this mandate can vary, depending on the state.
Basic Requirements for Serving on a Jury
A juror who does not have a felony conviction or a felon who has had his records erased, which allows him to serve in his state, must be at least 18 year old and a legal resident of the state and county where the trial is held. He must also possess an I.D. card or valid driver’s license.
Felon Reinstatement of Rights
Because a felony is a serious crime, many states will not allow a felon to serve as a juror. However, exceptions have been made to the rule. In some states, rights are reinstated, once a convicted felon has served his time and completed his probation.
At this juncture, the felon can vote again and therefore his name will appear on the voter registrar. If the state where you live reinstates rights, then you can serve as a juror. For instance, felons who have had their records expunged or have received a pardon are allowed to serve as jurors.
The Federal rules for serving on a jury are similar to the statutes of most states. A felon cannot serve as a juror in a Federal court. If he has his records erased or expunged, he is not considered to be a felon and can serve as a juror on all levels – local, state and Federal. Felons must satisfy their probation requirement in order to serve.
You can obtain further information about reinstating your rights by visiting 866ourvote.org and reviewing the rights for reinstatement state by state.
Types of Disqualifications
Three types of statutory disqualifications prevent people from serving as jurors – a mandatory disqualification, an excusal upon a juror’s request and an excusal at the judge’s discretion.
Any individual who is biased about a defendant or has a state of mind that will prevent him from rendering an impartial decision is disqualified from serving and therefore is mandatorily disqualified. Convicted felons also fall under this type of disqualification – or anyone who has been convicted of bribery, larceny, perjury or forgery – unless their rights have been restored. Other examples of mandatory disqualification include people who do not possess enough knowledge of reading, writing or math to understand a case or anyone who works full-time in law enforcement (unless they elect to serve).
Excusal Upon the Juror’s Request
Individualscan also be excused from serving as jurors, upon request, if they are an expectant mother or are responsible for the care of an individual who cannot take care of himself. Parents who are not employed full-time who are responsible for the care of a child under the age of six can also be excused from jury service. If you already have reported for jury duty within the past year, you are exempt from serving as well. This exemption may also fall under mandatory disqualification.
Excusal at a Judge’s Discretion
Jurors can be dismissed at a judge’s discretion who work as an attorney or doctor or who are infirm. People called to serve as jurors may be excused by a judge out of public necessity or for reasons of hardship as well.
You Can Only Serve if Your Rights are Restored
Basically, in most states in the U.S., you can serve on a jury if your felony record is expunged or erased and you are given back your voting rights. If the records are not erased, then you are disqualified from serving on the local, state and Federal level.
Have you been to jury duty before? How did you become eligible? Let us know in the comments below.