Being held in contempt of court can have you committed to prison. Because of that, it is important that you avoid it as best you can, and when you are held in contempt, that you contact an attorney. You may be held in contempt of court for several different reasons, but generally, it is because you did not adhere to a legally binding order, such as a restraining order, for example. If you do not comply with this order, the courts can approve you being held in contempt, which, as we mentioned previously, can result in prison time or a fine.
In this article, we are going to tell you virtually everything that you could ever need to know about being held in contempt of court so that, if it does happen to you, which we hope it will not, you will know what to do. By the end of this page, we hope you will know everything that there is to know about being held in contempt and how you can avoid it.
Here is what you need to know about being held in contempt of court.
Wait, Hold On, What is Contempt of Court?
There are, as you may already know, two different types of contempt of court. There is criminal contempt, and there is civil contempt. We will, for the purposes of this article, not bother ourselves with civil contempt, and rather, focus on criminal contempt [which is the most serious]. Criminal contempt charges are separate from the main case. And, unlike civil contempt charges, criminal charges can go on for a long time after the main case has been resolved or been dealt with punitively.
When you are charged with criminal contempt, you are often afforded the same constitutional rights as criminal defendants. You are entitled to a lawyer, entitled to argue a defense, and you are, in some cases, given the right to a jury trial. Criminal contempt charges must, however, be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
With criminal contempt, imprisonment can begin as soon as you have been held in criminal contempt, and it can begin even before the charge is adjudicated and the sentence length established. Generally, the same judge who charged you with contempt will then preside over the contempt hearings and make further decisions with regard to your case. As mentioned in our introductory paragraphs, criminal contempt can result in prison time, fines, and community service.
What Should I Do?
If you have been held in contempt, the first thing that you will want to do is to call an attorney. Criminal contempt, as we mentioned already, affords you the right to hire legal counsel. You absolutely must. Even if the evidence is insurmountable, an attorney can argue for reduced time or time spent. According to a lawyer specialized in contempt defense from Fighter Law, the best way to avoid being held in contempt is to avoid irritating the judge! The judge can hold you in contempt at any time, but if you get on with them and do, as they say, they are less likely to [or will not at all]. Keep the judge on your side!
Contempt of court can be punishable by fines, arrest, imprisonment, or even community service. If you are held in contempt of court, there is no limit to the fine that can be given to you [unless the fine is imposed by an inferior court, in which case, the fine is limited]. If a fine is the best way to punish you, it would be considered wrong for a judge to impose a prison sentence upon you.
Although with that said, they still can, and there is generally nothing to stop them; Your property can also be seized; this appoints enforcement agents (bailiffs) the power to come into your home and take your property to pay a fine or settlement; A prison sentence, which can be as long as the judge decides, but is generally up to a maximum of two years.
However, it is generally thought that if your behavior is usually good, and you are a first-time offender, the judge is less likely to charge you with contempt of court. In the United States, it is preferred not to send first-time offenders to prison, and rather, the judge can do the community more benefit by keeping them out of prison and allowing them to reform and give back to society, rather than spending their lives as career criminals, held back by imprisonment. Suppose you have previously had good conduct, and it is your first time being in contempt or being in trouble with the law. In that case, it is safe to say you are less likely to receive a prison sentence, although if the severity of your actions does warrant it, you may not be able to escape it.
Dealing With Prison
If you are being held in contempt and you are being sentenced to a period of imprisonment, it’s important for you to read this. Prison is, most definitely, not the kind of place you want to end up, although with that said, there are some things that you can personally do to reduce your stress in prison and to make it far easier and less uncomfortable when you do arrive. When arriving for contempt, you will likely be there no longer than a few months, which means you do not necessarily need to make yourself at home.
If you are afraid, which is understandable, we recommend that you ask to be put on the protective custody [‘PC’] unit. This unit is for people who are not confident, are at risk, or are involved in gangs. This unit will generally see prisoners locked up for a majority of the day – but even so – they are safe and cannot be harmed as they would potentially be in the general population [‘Gen Pop’]. If you are concerned, PC up.
With this page, you now know how you can deal with contempt, what contempt is, and how to deal with prison if it comes as a consequence of contempt of court. Contempt of court can be very stressful; that much is true. We hope that with this page, it is a little clearer now.