Can you refuse to be sworn to a criminal court?

Verified 05 November 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

You can only refuse to serve on a jury at a criminal court if serious difficulties prevent you from doing so. If you are in one of these cases, you must apply for an exemption. If you are sitting on the Court of Assize, you will receive compensation to cover your loss of income and your travel, living and meal expenses.

If your name is drawn by lot from the voters' lists to be sworn to a court of assize, you cannot refuse to sit.

Indeed, the absence of a juror on the day of the hearing without legitimate reason is punishable by a fine of €3,750.

If you are an employee, your employer is obliged to free you so that you can sit on the court of assises.

However, you can request an exemption if you are in one of the following situations:

  • You're over 70
  • You no longer have a principal residence in the department of the Cour d'Assises
  • You have difficulties that prevent you from being present (serious illness, or illness of a child, deafness, etc.)

The request for exemption must be sent in writing to the Registry of the Court of Assize, before 1er September of the year. If not, you must present yourself on 1er day of the sitting.

Who shall I contact

The commission which considers requests for exemption shall verify the seriousness of the grounds and the reality of the facts relied on. You must therefore attach supporting evidence for your application.

If you sit on the Court of Assize, you will see allowances to cover your loss of income, travel, living and food expenses.

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