During a criminal or any type of case, it is possible that a judge will issue an order. It may be to refrain from speaking in the courtroom, to show up on a certain date for a hearing or to refrain from talking about the case outside of court. Violating one or multiple orders may result in being charged with contempt of court.
Jail Time May be Possible
Those who are found to be in contempt of court may have to spend 24 hours or longer in jail. This may take place as soon as the contempt of court ruling is issued or at a later date that is convenient for the judge and the person found to be in contempt. For instance, an individual may be given a weekend sentence to make sure childcare can be arranged or that he or she can keep working to provide for a child.
Fines May Also Result From a Contempt Charge
A contempt of court charge may result in a fine instead of jail time or reduced to a fine or community service in lieu of jail time. The fine can be as little as $500 or increased depending on what caused the contempt or if an individual is a repeat offender. Having legal counsel argue on an individual’s behalf may make the difference between being sent to jail or getting a fine and community service.
How Else Could Legal Counsel Assist?
It may be possible for a lawyer to argue that an individual did not mean to act against the orders of a judge. For instance, a defendant may have failed to show for court because he or she was not notified of a court date. That person may have tried to show but couldn’t because of car trouble or another issue that the court wasn’t immediately aware of. An attorney may be able to make the court aware of the issue, which generally results in the order being rescinded and another court date being scheduled. If time allows, the hearing or other event may be postponed temporarily until the defendant is able to arrive.
What Happens if You Don’t Comply With the Contempt Order?
If a judge finds that you are in contempt, you must generally surrender yourself as soon as possible. Assuming that you are in court when the order is issued, you may be taken into custody immediately. However, if you are not in court, a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest. The penalties may increase if you fail to answer the charge in a timely manner. Your attorney will attempt to get in touch with you or talk to the judge in an effort to procure leniency for you when you do eventually comply.
A contempt of court finding is nothing to take lightly. While you may be given a chance to apologize for your actions before being sent to jail or fined, it is something that you need to take care of as soon as possible. Your attorney will be by your side through the entire process, which may help you get the best possible outcome in your case.