In the American legal system, individuals or groups accused of a crime have the right to a trial in which they can make a plea to a jury of their peers. In order to assure this for all individuals tried in an American court, all adult American citizens and those with permanent residency status are required to serve as a member of a jury from time to time. This service is referred to as jury duty.
The number of times an individual will serve on a jury depends on the selection process stipulated by the county and state of his or her residence. In some places, individuals are called after being randomly called from a roster of registered voters. In other places, individuals may be called more frequently based on other factors. Owning land or having a drivers license, for example, may increased the frequency at which an individual is called to serve on a jury.
Most people find jury duty to be more of an annoyance than anything else. In most cases, people are called to service and are discharged after one day at the county court house. There are cases in which people become involved in a complicated case, however. There are cases, for example, that have taken over a year in a courtroom trial. These, clearly, are the exceptions.
In most cases, people who are called to jury duty are protected from being fired or disciplined for missing work. In some states, an employer may be required to pay the employee for at least some of the time served on a jury, but this varies. People who provide child care to a member of their family must make private arrangements for that child or children while serving. Some states will pay jurors for their service — often up to $40 or $50 US Dollars per day — with some states paying from the first day and others only after several days or if the employer is not required to pay.
Jury duty can be postponed, but it cannot be waived except for in very special circumstances in which an individual is, for one reason or another, incapable of serving. In the event that an individual does not show up to court on his or her appointed date, the court may issue a fine in excess of $1100. In order to postponed this duty, you must get in touch with your county court house and request a postponement. If your postponement is granted, the courthouse will assign you another jury duty date.