In many states, felons cannot serve on juries. If you are among the 8 percent of Americans that has a felony on your record, you probably can’t participate in jury duty, but it’s important to know the rules around this topic.
Which laws keep felons from serving on a jury?
Even if your conviction was in federal court, state laws may keep you from serving on a jury. Some states, like California and Maine, specifically say that they’ll allow people with felony convictions to serve on a jury, while other states are less clear on the matter or have rules prohibiting it.
The state of Maine does not discriminate against felons for jury duty. The state screens potential jurors with felonies exactly the same as all other jurors.
Other states may have their own specific laws in place on this matter, so it’s important to find out where your state stands.
What if your record has been expunged?
Some states ban felons from serving on a jury for life. Others may allow you to serve if your record has been expunged. But if your felony was a federal crime, it is very rare that your record would get expunged. Judges have the power to seal your federal criminal records, but they do not do this very often. Pardoned felons can vote.
What should you do if you have a felony and get a notice for jury duty?
Many states pull jury duty information from voter registration data. At the same time, more and more felons are getting the right to vote. This could lead to you getting a jury summons, even if you have a felony on your record.
In many cases, you will have a chance to indicate your criminal record status on a jury summons form. This should be enough to rule you out and move on.
But if you do get called in for jury duty, make sure to tell officials about your record immediately. You can face legal consequences if you try to serve on a jury as a felon.
If you are a felon, you can only serve on a jury in some places. For example, California and Maine both have laws that allow people with felonies on their records to perform jury duty. Other states may allow you to serve on a jury if your record has been expunged, but it is rare for federal felony convictions to be expunged or sealed. If you receive a jury summons, you should make it clear that you have a felony on your record, because attempting to serve on a jury as a felon can have legal consequences in some states.