Jury Qualifications and Exemptions

There is a place for experts in the legal process. Lawyers are educated in the principles and details of the law, for example, and expert witnesses may help analyze the evidence. Judges preside in the courtroom, making sure that the laws and rules of evidence are applied fairly. Appellate courts can help correct errors in procedures, but the justice system relies on members of the community, using their common sense and with no vested interest in the outcome of the trial, to hear the evidence and discern the facts.

Here are the only qualifications you need to serve on a civil or criminal jury. You must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be a resident citizen of the county where the case is pending
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be competent to serve (not incompetent by virtue of mental illness, mental retardation or intoxication)
  • not be a convicted felon, unless civil rights have been restored or the conviction pardoned
  • Be able to communicate in the English language

If you don’t meet all of these requirements, you may not serve.

You may be exempted or deferred from jury service if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • Engaged in work necessary to the public health, safety or good order
  • A full-time student in a college, university, vocational school or other post-secondary school
  • Primary caregiver having active care and custody of a child six years of age or younger, with no reasonable available alternative childcare
  • A primary teacher in a home study program who during the week of trial is actively engaged in teaching and no reasonable alternative for the child or children is available
  • A person 70 years of age or older may request that his/her name be removed from the jury list of the county
  • A service member on ordered military duty, or the spouse of such service member, upon presentation of a copy of official military orders or a written verification signed by the juror’s commanding officer