Juror Qualifications in Florida - Who Can Be Summoned?
In the American court system, criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to trial by a "jury of their peers." In Florida, a pool of potential jurors is randomly selected from the local population of individuals eligible for jury duty.
Jurors shall be:
At least 18 years of age: To serve as a juror in Florida, you must be at least 18 years old.
Citizens of the United States and legal residents of the state of Florida and their respective counties: This requirement ensures that only eligible residents of Florida can be summoned for jury duty.
Possess a driver’s license or identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: This identification requirement helps verify your eligibility.
Have executed an affidavit at the office of the clerk, to have their name added to the list of qualified jurors: If you meet the qualifications and wish to serve as a juror, you can execute an affidavit to have your name added to the list of qualified jurors.
Juror Selection in Florida - What to Expect
How Are Potential Jurors Chosen in Florida?
The first stage in jury selection is summoning a pool of potential jurors from the list of local citizens eligible to serve on a jury in Florida, as described above. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles delivers a quarterly list of names of qualifying jurors to the clerk of the circuit court in each county.
Juror lists are reviewed by the clerks of circuit court monthly and purged of any names of individuals who are:
- Adjudicated mentally incompetent
- Convicted of a felony
- Deceased (as reported monthly by The Department of Health)
Receiving a Jury Duty Summons in Florida
If your name is randomly selected for the jury pool through the process described above, you receive a jury summons in the mail instructing you to appear for jury selection on a pre-set day.
While there are a few excuses for getting out of jury selection in FL, most people summoned will have to report to the courthouse for the next stage of the juror selection process, voir dire.
The Juror Selection Process, or "Voir Dire"
Just because you qualify to be a juror and are summoned for jury selection, doesn't mean that you will be selected to be a juror on a case. The process of "Voir Dire," the actual act of jury selection, is how judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors actually choose the individuals who will sit on the juries for upcoming criminal and civil cases.
During the voir dire process, each lawyer will ask the pool of potential jurors a series of questions about their background, beliefs, prejudices, or relationships with any party to the case. While the goal is to select an impartial jury to render a verdict, each attorney will also seek to exclude any jurors who seem to be more likely to vote against their client's interests.
While jury candidates are instructed to be open and truthful when answering such questions, the juror selection process is also where most individuals who don't wish to serve on a trial find a way to be excused from further juror duties.
What Happens After Jury Selection Day
If you are selected to serve on a jury, you will be provided with the trial date and must return to serve on the jury for the duration of the trial and deliberations. If you were not selected to serve on any jury during the voir dire process, you can go home, and your Florida jury duty obligations are complete.
You will receive nominal Florida jury duty pay for the jury selection day, as well as for any days served on a jury. Once your service is complete, you won't be summoned for jury duty again until Florida re-adds you to the potential juror pool.
Jury Duty Attire (Dress Code) in Florida
Jurors reporting for jury duty or jury selection in the state of Florida are expected to dress professionally, in a manner appropriate for a court room.
Most courthouses suggest dress ranging from business casual to business attire. For men, this means slacks or khakis and a polo or button-down shirt, potentially with a tie or suit jacket. For women, this means a professional-looking pair of pants or a skirt, cardigan, sweater, twinset, or shirt.
As a juror, you are expected to maintain a professional and respectable appearance while performing your duties. Hats should never be worn in a courtroom, and you should avoid wearing shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, or anything printed with logos or slogans.
How Frequently Can I Be Called for Jury Duty in Florida?
While jury duty is a civic requirement for all eligible citizens in Florida, the state restricts how often you can be summoned for jury duty in order to ensure a fresh jury pool and prevent undue hardship by being summoned too frequently.
Florida Jury Duty Summons Frequency:
A juror who was summoned and had reported for duty in any court in their county is exempt from jury service for 1 year from the last day of their previous service.
What Happens If I Fail to Appear for Jury Duty in FL?
While there are a number of ways to be legally excused from jury duty in Florida, failing to appear when summoned for jury selection or jury duty without a sufficient excuse is illegal and can result in legal repercussions.
Jurors summoned and failing to attend without sufficient excuse may be found in contempt of court and fined not to exceed $100 by the summoning court.
Employers in Florida are also forbidden from penalizing employees who miss work for jury duty.
FL Jury Duty Law Sections Cited: Fla. Stat. Ann. § § 40.24, 40.271
This comprehensive guide outlines what you can expect when called for jury duty in Florida, from the qualifications and selection process to what happens if you fail to appear. Understanding these details will help you navigate the jury duty experience with confidence and professionalism.