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What is contempt
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Is Contempt of Court a Crime

As per Penal Code 166, contempt of court or simply “contempt” is illegal conduct that is defined as some type of disobedience of an order of a court. Some examples of such conduct are: 

  • Being disrespectful in a court proceeding (being loud, interrupting by shouting, creating noise, a breach of peace, taunting the court clerk).
  • Willful disobedience of a lawful written order of the court.
  • Refusing to be sworn as a witness.
  • Refusing to answer any material question when there is no legal exception while being a witness in a trial.
  • Publishing a false recollection of court proceedings.
  • Willful disobedience of the terms of a lawful injunction.
  • Violation of any protective order involving: 
  • Domestic violence.
  • Elder abuse.
  • Abuse of an independent adult.

Here, it’s important to note that “willfully” means that a person has committed the act, either willingly or on purpose. Additionally, while this sentence outlines many criminal behaviors, the most common violation is the disobedience of a court order. 

You need to know that “contempt of court” is considered a misdemeanor that could lead to a sentence of up to six months in jail. 

What is Disobedience of a Court Order? 

As already mentioned, the most prevalent type of contempt of court is the act of disobedience to a court order. If a prosecutor wants to convict a person of violating a court order, he needs to prove the following:

  • A judge actually issued a legal court order.
  • The convicted knew the order.
  • The convicted could comply with the order and willfully decided or failed to do so. 

When it comes to a defendant knowing of a court order, the prosecutor needs to prove that:

  • The accused knew about the existence of a valid court order.
  • The accused had the opportunity to read or hear what the order was.

It’s vital to note that both adults and minors can be charged with violating a court order. 

Violating Penal Code 166 is typically a misdemeanor that can have severe consequences. However, there are ways to legally defend yourself if you find that what you’re being accused of is unfair or incorrect. 

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

H Law Group Online

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