Many of us have done it: hit the snooze button on our alarms to give ourselves a few more minutes of sleep time before getting ready for the day. And while it helps us stay refreshed and take on whatever opportunities and challenges might come our way, it could also make us miss an important appointment. Although we might suffer consequences for failing to show up for a meeting or work shift, we generally aren’t charged with a criminal offense for doing so.
However, that’s what happened to a Florida man who was scheduled for jury duty but accidentally slept in and didn’t appear at the trial. His penalty: a misdemeanor charge for being in direct contempt of court.
Missing Jury Duty and Criminal Charges
The man, who had no criminal history, was selected to serve as a juror on a civil case. When he failed to arrive for the trial, he was summoned to court to explain why he never showed up.
The judge who presided over the man’s hearing noted that he never called the court to let them know he wasn’t going to make it, and by failing to show, he delayed the civil trial for 45 minutes. When asked why he never appeared, the man apologized and said he slept in and didn’t understand how serious it was to miss jury service.
What Is Contempt?
Contempt is when a person shows disregards for a judge’s orders or rules of court. When a person is accused of direct contempt, that means they disobeyed an instruction in the presence of the court itself. In the case of the Florida man who overslept, the judge could see that the he was not present for the trial, and his absence held up judicial proceedings.
Penalties for Direct Contempt
The purpose of the sanctions for criminal direct contempt are to punish the offender, and the judge has the authority to determine the ultimate sentence.
As with other criminal proceedings, those for direct contempt allow the accused to present their case in court as to why they should not be found guilty of the offense.
During the Florida man’s hearing, he told the judge that he had never been in trouble with the law and he accidentally overslept.
Unfortunately, the judge found him guilty and ordered him to spend 10 days in jail, serve 1 year of probation, complete 150 hours of community service, pay $233 in fines, and write an apology letter of at least 100 words.
Many people said that the man’s punishment for missing jury duty was excessive, and having a misdemeanor charge on his record could make it difficult for him to find work later in life. They took to social media to express their opinions.
Appealing the Judgement
After spending 10 days in jail, the Florida man appealed the judge’s decision. Friends and family appeared at the proceedings to speak to the man’s character. The man also wrote an apology to the judge expressing remorse for his actions.
The judge set aside the contempt verdict and decided to reduce the man’s probation from 1 year to 30 hours, but said that missing court was still a serious offense and should be punished.
For the Legal Representation You Need, Contact The Wiseman Law Firm
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you can improve the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case by retaining the services of a skilled attorney. Our lawyer is proud to offer superior legal service in Orlando, and will work hard toward getting your charges reduced or dropped.
Speak with us during a free consultation by calling (407) 708-9127 or filling out an online contact form.