Jury duty is a civic duty that is required by law in Australia. Jurors are randomly selected from the jury roll in their particular area, with this information being provided by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Exemptions from jury duty are granted under certain circumstances. These circumstances include medical reasons, undue hardship, financial or otherwise, and serious inconvenience to the person. Individuals who are unable to serve on a jury due to these reasons can apply to be excused from jury service. The decision to grant an exemption is made by the court, and the individual must provide evidence to support their application.

Below are some of the accepted exemptions in NSW which will excuse you from having to perform jury service in criminal trials.

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Eligibility for Jury Duty Exemptions

Jury duty is an essential part of the Australian legal system, and most citizens are required to serve on a jury if called upon to do so. However, there are some circumstances in which a person may be eligible for an exemption from jury duty.

Health Exemptions

If you have a medical condition that would make it difficult or impossible for you to serve on a jury, you may be eligible for a health exemption. To claim a health exemption, you will need to provide medical evidence to support your claim.

Undue Hardship Exemptions

If serving on a jury would cause you or another person undue hardship, you may be eligible for an exemption. This could include financial hardship, caring responsibilities, mental or physical impairment or other personal circumstances that would make it difficult for you to serve.

Occupational Exemptions

Emergency Services Personnel: Emergency services personnel, including firefighters, ambulance officers, and rescue workers, may be exempt from jury duty. This exemption applies to full-time, permanent emergency services personnel and does not extend to part-time or voluntary workers.

Armed Forces Members: Members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) may also be eligible for an exemption from jury duty. This exemption applies to both full-time and part-time members of the ADF, including reservists.

Legal Professionals: Legal professionals, including lawyers, judges, and magistrates, may also be exempt from jury duty. This exemption applies to those who are currently practising in the legal profession. However, this exemption does not apply to law students or those who have completed their legal studies but are not yet admitted to practice.

It is important to note that these exemptions do not apply automatically and must be applied for through the appropriate channels. In some cases, proof of eligibility may be required.

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What Are Valid Reasons for Not Attending Jury Duty?

It is important to note that not everyone who applies for an exemption will be granted one. The court will consider each application on a case-by-case basis, and the decision to grant an exemption will depend on the specific circumstances of the individual.

Age Criteria

Age is one of the most common grounds for exemption from jury duty. In NSW, persons over the age of 75 are automatically exempt from serving on a jury.

Health and Disability

Persons with certain medical conditions or disabilities may be excused from serving on a jury. This may include individuals who suffer from physical or mental health conditions that make it difficult for them to participate in the jury process. In such cases, a medical certificate may be required to support the request for exemption.

Carer Responsibilities

Persons who are responsible for the care of a dependent may also be excused from serving on a jury. This may include individuals who are the primary carer for a child, an elderly or disabled person, or a sick family member. In such cases, a letter from a medical practitioner or other relevant authority may be required to support the request for exemption.

Educational Commitments

Individuals who have educational commitments that cannot be postponed or rescheduled to attend jury duty may be eligible for an exemption from jury duty. This includes students who are enrolled in full-time courses at universities or other educational institutions.

To be granted an exemption, individuals must provide evidence of their educational commitments. This may include a letter from their educational institution, notice of their examination or class timetable. It is important to note that individuals who are only taking part-time courses or evening classes may not be eligible for an exemption.

If an individual is granted an exemption due to their educational commitments, they may be required to serve on a jury at a later date. This is because the court will only excuse an individual from jury duty if they can demonstrate that their educational commitments cannot be rescheduled or postponed.

Financial Hardship and Business Obligations

If serving on a jury would cause undue financial hardship to a person or their business, they may be excused from jury duty. It is important to note that the financial hardship must be significant and not just a minor inconvenience. The person must provide evidence to support their claim of financial hardship.

Business owners or self-employed individuals may also be excused from jury duty if their absence would cause significant harm to their business. They must provide evidence to support their claim, such as financial statements or a letter from their accountant.

Prior Jury Service

If an individual has a previous lengthy jury service, they may be exempt from serving again. This exemption is only applicable if the individual has served on a jury within the past three years.

It is important to note that if an individual was selected to serve on a jury but did not actually serve a jury district, they are still considered to have served and may be exempt from serving again for the next three years.

Additionally, if an individual was selected to serve on a jury but was excused before the trial began, they are still considered to have served and may be exempt from serving again for the next three years.

Key Takeaways

Is There a Fine for Not Attending Jury Duty?

Yes. If you have not been excluded or excused and do not attend, you will be sent a letter asking you to explain why you were absent. If your explanation is not accepted, a fine of up to $2,200 can apply.

Overall, while jury duty is an important responsibility for citizens, there are valid reasons for some individuals to be permanently exempted. By understanding these exemptions, individuals can better appreciate the importance of jury duty and the role it plays in the Australian legal system.
Written By
Picture of James Janke
James Janke

James Janke is founding partner at Hamilton Janke Lawyers, and has more then decade of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. Admitted to both the Supreme Court of New South Wales and High Court of Australia