Contempt of court is any type of disregard or willful disobedience of a court order. Contempt of court can be civil or criminal. Being in contempt can vary from misconduct in court to interfering with the court proceedings.

What is Criminal Contempt of Court?

In general, criminal contempt refers to a person’s conduct. Conduct that rises to contempt shows disrespect, insulting, or defying behavior.

How is Criminal Contempt of Court Defined in California?

California’s criminal contempt of court charge includes disorderly or insolent behavior. It also includes situations where a person refuses to be sworn in, answer questions, or continues to interrupt proceedings. 

Can I Be Charged with Criminal Contempt for Helping Someone?

Yes. A person can be charged for helping another person defy a court order. 

What Does the State Have To Prove To Convict Me of Contempt of Court?

A prosecutor must prove four elements: 

  • A California court issued a written order to the individual
  • The defendant knew about the court order
  • The defendant had the ability to do as the court order outlined
  • The defendant purposely violated the court order

Can I Get Jail Time for Criminal Contempt of Court? 

Yes, punishment for contempt of court includes 364 days (less than 1 year) in a county jail. The punishment for the misdemeanor may also include fines and/or a protective order depending on the circumstances.

Are There Any Defenses to Criminal Contempt of Court in California?

Yes. The specific defense depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. Some general defenses include:

  • No intent to be in contempt
  • No ability to follow the court order
  • Lack of knowledge about the court order 

Should I Contact a Lawyer For My Criminal Contempt Charge?

Yes. Contact a California lawyer to discuss how to fight or resolve this charge without a guilty verdict.