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Florida man gets 10 days in jail for missing jury duty

Deandre Somerville's sentence also includes three months of probation, 30 hours of community service, an apology letter, and a $223 fine.
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A Florida man selected for jury duty received a sentence of his own after failing to show up for the trial.

Deandre Somerville, 21, of West Palm Beach, was sentenced to 10 days in jail after he overslept and missed the start of the trial and did not notify the court or its jury office, court records show.

Somerville was chosen as a juror Aug. 20 for a civil trial in Florida's 15th judicial circuit. He was ordered to return the following day at 9:30 a.m. After waking up and realizing he overslept, he says he sought answers online regarding possible punishments for missing jury duty.

"I should have called," Somerville told NBC News. "But I was kind of nervous. I also went online to look up what could really happen, and I didn't really see too much there. ... [It looked like] nobody actually ever really went to jail for it."

Feeling "relief" from what he found, Somerville carried on as usual, heading to his job with the city's Parks and Recreation Department, where he works with kids in afterschool programs.

But that relief wouldn't last long. On Sept. 23, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge John S. Kastrenakes found Somerville in criminal contempt of the court.

"When a juror is selected and sworn, the administration of justice in this courthouse depends on you following the orders of the court," Kastrenakes said, according to court records, adding that the trial was delayed for almost an hour while the court waited for Somerville.

Kastrenakes initially ordered a sentence of 10 days in jail, one year of probation and 150 hours of community service. Somerville was also required to write a letter of apology to the court and pay $223 to cover court costs.

Somerville regrets his actions but thinks his jail sentence was "a little overdone" and his probation unnecessary.

"I feel like I didn't need any rehabilitation," Somerville said of his probation, stating that his time in jail was rehabilitation enough. "I just made a mistake."

During his 10 days in Palm Beach County jail, which he describes as "traumatic," Somerville realized the gravity of his situation. He had recently moved in with his grandparents to help care for his grandfather, including with his physical therapy.

At the hearing Friday, Somerville read his letter of apology aloud to the court.

"This was an immature decision that I made and I paid for with my freedom," the letter read. "I am extremely sorry for my actions. I also sincerely apologize for delaying the trial by 45 minutes and not being considerate of other people’s time."

"I know I may have to live with a record that follows me for the rest of my life," the letter continued. "This was definitely a learning experience and a wake-up call for me. ... I’m determined to not let this define who I am and what my future will be."

During the hearing, Somerville's probation was reduced to three months and his community service requirement was reduced to 30 hours.