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Insight Denton: Will I be arrested for missing jury duty?

A couple of months ago, a Denton man called the Denton Record-Chronicle without knowing he was being scammed. 

The scammer, who claimed to be from the Denton County Sheriff's Office, told the man his wife missed jury duty, and they would have to pay  $512 to bond her out of jail. In this case, the scammer also asked the man to pay with a money order. 

The Denton resident said he called the DRC because he didn't know whether this was a normal procedure. The confusion became highly distressing for him and his wife. 

His concern arose from a common misunderstanding of the penalties associated with missing jury duty. Precinct 1 Constable Johnny Hammons said county officials will never immediately call someone who missed jury duty to ask for money. And while someone can be arrested for continually skipping out, Hammons said it rarely comes to that. 

"I think there's only been one time I can remember that they ever actually put somebody in jail for not going to jury duty," said Hammons, who has more than 20 years experience in Denton County law enforcement. 

Jurors in Denton County are allowed to postpone their date once for any reason. If they miss their scheduled date, there's still an opportunity to explain the reason to a judge. 

"Depending on the judge, you're either going to get a phone call and be rescheduled, or the constable or the sheriff is going to show up and take you to court," Hammons said. 

The juror can explain the situation to the judge, who may allow them to reschedule or assign a financial penalty, Hammons said. He said each judge makes the decisions on a case-by-case basis. 

"The only time money will be involved is if the judge holds them in contempt of court and the judge fines them," he said. 

Hammons said jurors can call Denton County Jury Services at 940-349-2230 with any questions or concerns. Residents from Trophy Club, Roanoke and The Colony may call a separate line at 972-434-8830. 

More information can be found on the county website. 

What do you want to know? Email your question for Insight Denton to pheinkel-wolfe@dentonrc.com.