Attorney at Law
FOR LAWYERS

Contempt Citations: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

A common feature of legal procedurals and dramas alike is the judge shouting about a plaintiff, defendant, or even lawyer being “in contempt of court.” While it makes for good tv, what does being held in contempt mean?

The crime of “contempt” is deliberately broad and far-reaching. The most basic definition of contempt of court is the failure to obey an order of the court. This can be a single, rude indiscretion such as speaking out of turn, physically accosting opposing parties, or simply speaking out of turn repeatedly.

Contempt can also be issued based on procedural orders that are disobeyed. If a respondent fails to pay court issued settlements such as alimony or child support, this can also be grounds for contempt citations. Generally these contempt issues will be resolved through fines, although it is possible to incur jail time this way as well.

There is also criminal contempt which is even more deliberate than a single indiscretion or a missed payment. Criminal contempt consists of actively obstructing justice. This could be anything from threatening a witness or judge, to willfully disobeying subpoenas for evidence either through refusal to comply or by destroying the evidence. This type of contempt is more likely to result in serious fines and jail time.

Ultimately, regardless of the category, contempt is decided by the judge, who has absolute authority over their courtroom. The easiest way to avoid being cited for contempt is to ensure that all orders from the court are respectfully and dutifully carried out. An extremely simple way to avoid a contempt citation is simply to have an attorney present to advocate on behalf of the individual. Attorneys understand the options available to a client and therefore may be able to petition or subvert a court order through legitimate, respectful means that will be unlikely to result in contempt citations.

While a contempt order can be issued by the judge essentially at will, criminal and civil contempt citations can sometimes be appealed by a certain date. The best action is to avoid contempt citations altogether. If, however, you have been cited with contempt of court, the best course of action is to immediately consult with an attorney about your options.

Ask a Lawyer

Ask your own question and get advice from expert attorneys
Ask Question

Featured Auto Accidents Lawyers

England Injury Law

google-logo
5 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Personal Injury, Truck Accidents
View Profile

Ashley Injury Lawyers

google-logo
3 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Personal Injury, Truck Accidents
View Profile

Jane Gordon Law

2 years in practice
Animal Bites, Auto Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Personal Injury
View Profile

England Injury Law

google-logo
5 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Personal Injury, Truck Accidents
View Profile

Ashley Injury Lawyers

google-logo
3 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Personal Injury, Truck Accidents
View Profile

Divorce With a Plan

google-logo
2 years in practice
Contested Divorce, Divorce & Family Law, Divorce Law, Divorce Mediation Law
View Profile

Contact AttorneyAtLaw.com

Are you looking for an attorney? Do you have questions about a legal case you are facing? Contact us now and we will put you in touch with a lawyer for free.
Attorney At Law is changing how clients connect with lawyers. By providing an innovative platform to lawyers who want to expand their practice’s reach, AAL is bringing law practices into the future.
6142 Innovation Way
Carlsbad, California 92009
Some of the content of this website may be considered attorney advertising under the rules of certain jurisdictions. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
crossmenuchevron-upchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram