Civil Duties

Jury Duty

What is jury duty?

Jury duty is one of the most important duties of citizenship.  If you are selected to be a juror in a trial (criminal or civil), you may find that it can be quite interesting and gives you considerable responsibility.  You will be tasked with hearing all the evidence presented by the lawyers, and then with the rest of the jurors, decide the verdict. For example, in a civil case, you could have to decide who was at fault in a car accident and how much to award the injured person. In a criminal case, you could have to decide if someone is guilty of a crime.

If you are selected to be on a jury, you will be paid a small amount each day, and be expected to attend all the trial proceedings for duration of the day.  Jury trials can take 1 day or can last up to a week or longer. You cannot be fired from your job for performing on a jury duty because it is part of your obligation as a citizen.

Who is eligible for jury duty?

All people who are at least 18 years or older and are registered residents may be asked to serve jury duty in the county where they live. 

There are some exceptions for jury duty.  These include: people who are non-English speakers, people who are felons, and people who have already completed jury duty service in the same calendar year.

You may also be released from jury duty if you can prove hardship or extreme inconvenience.  For example, if you work a night shift and sleep during the day, a judge could excuse you from jury duty.


Who is eligible to vote?

In order to vote in Kentucky and other states, you must be 18 years old and complete a voter registration card.  You must turn in a voter registration card to the county clerk or other voting official at least 28 days prior to any election you wish to vote in.  You must also not be convicted of a felony, unless your voting rights have been restored. 

Political Parties

On the voter registration card, you must choose which political party you would like to be associated with: Democrat, Republican, or Independent.  Democrats and Republicans will be allowed to vote in the party primaries. If you choose Independent, you will not be allowed to vote in party primaries. Primaries are when there the party is trying to narrow down who their candidate will be.  For example, in a Republican primary, there are multiple Republican candidates, and Republicans vote for which Republican candidate they like best. The one who wins will eventually run against the Democratic candidate. As an Independent you may vote in nonpartisan elections such as for judges and school board officials.  No matter the party you choose to be affiliated with, you may vote for anyone in the general election from any party listed on the ballot at your precinct.  

How to Vote

When you vote be sure to bring photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport and know your designated polling location. You may only vote in the county and state where you are registered as a resident.  If you are away at college you may turn in an absentee ballot, return home to vote, or change your residency to where you attend college. Most major elections occur on the first Tuesday in November every year.  However, there is usually a primary earlier in the year, so make sure to know when that takes place. 

Military Service

All male US citizens are required to register for military service.  This can be accomplished at the post office. There is no draft at this time, but it is still a requirement to register. 

Military service is a great career path worth considering.  Some benefits include, free education and medical care, comprehensive training and many opportunities to travel and serve your country.  However, if you do choose to enlist do not take this decision lightly. It is often impossible to change your mind after you have signed the paperwork and submitted the documentation for enlistment.  Leaving military service without permission is a serious offense and has severe consequences. Also, you must be prepared to leave and start training on the military’s schedule, and you may not get to choose the location you are stationed.  If you are interested in military service as a career opportunity seek out your local recruitment officer and they will be able to provide you with more comprehensive information 

What are some of the rights that I have at age 18 that I didn’t have before?

  • Vote in national, state, and local elections.
  • Live independently from your parents and be free of their control.
  • Marry without your parents’ permission.
  • Enter into a contract.
  • Make a will.
  • Run for some elective offices.
  • Obtain medical treatment without the consent of your parents.
  • Apply for credit in your own name.
  • Right to work in all types of jobs.
  • Enter military service without your parents’ permission.

What are some of the new responsibilities that I have when I become 18?

  • Your parents are no longer required to support you.
  • You are responsible for all your actions. If you violate the law, you will be tried and sentenced as an adult, not as a juvenile.
  • You may sue and be sued by others for contracts that you make or accidents you are involved in.
  • You may be called for jury duty.
  • You can be sued for child support and the medical bills relating to your child’s birth.
  • If you are male, you must make sure you are registered with the Selective Service.