In Contempt of Court and in Trouble? Let Us Help

Contempt is defined as a behavior that disrespects the authority of the court. Examples include intentionally disobeying a custody and visitation order, failure to pay child support, and violating a protective order. A contempt action is quasi-criminal and is punishable by up to 5 days in jail and $1,000 fine.

These and similar charges create harsh consequences that negatively impact your reputation, career, and future.

At the Nieves Law Firm, APC we are committed to providing excellent legal representation in all criminal matters. No matter what charges you are facing, we are prepared to review your case and determine the best method to proceed. For a free initial consultation, call (510) 779-2082 or contact us here. From start to finish we will strive to achieve a more positive outcome.

Contempt charges can arise when a person subject to a legitimate court order fails to comply with its terms, even though they are aware of the order and have the means to comply. Contempt orders can occur in a civil or criminal context, but differ according to the goals of the punishment. In a criminal court, the sentence is meant to punish the offender and vindicate the court’s authority. In civil matters such as family law, the aim is more remedial in scope and intended to benefit the complainant.

Criminal Contempt

California Penal Code 166 defines ‘contempt’ as behavior that is inappropriate and shows disrespect to the court process. Examples include:

  • Demonstrating a disrespectful attitude to the judge and the proceedings
  • Loudly interrupting while court is in session
  • Refusing to be sworn in as a witness
  • Intentionally disobeying a court order
  • Publishing a false or grossly inaccurate account of court proceedings

Contempt is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in a jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Aggravated acts of contempt like those below can result in more serious penalties, including prison time.

  • Possessing or owning firearms in violation of a court order
  • Violating a protective order when you have a stalking conviction on your record
  • Violating a domestic violence protective order

Civil Contempt

In California family courts, contempt findings are normally used for enforce spousal support, child support, child custody, and visitation orders. Actions that could lead to a contempt charge include:

  • Failing to pay the required child or spousal support
  • Violating a restraining order
  • Refusing to return a child after a scheduled visitation
  • Refusing to allow the other parent to visit the child

In order to find you guilty of contempt, the petitioning party must prove that:

  1. A valid order existed
  2. You had knowledge of the order
  3. You had the ability to comply with the order
  4. You willfully violated the order

Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1218, punishment for violating a family court order include community service, fines and up to 5 days of incarceration per count.

If you find yourself charged with contempt, we can help. Let the team at the Nieves Law Firm use our combined experience to mount a solid defense. Whatever your circumstances, we’re here to help. We offer a free initial consultation, so call 510-779-2082 or contact us here.

Our contempt of court defense lawyers at The Nieves Law Firm are serving clients in Oakland, CA and surrounding areas, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Solano and San Francisco counties. Call at (510) 779-2082 for a Free Consultation and speak to our contempt of court case attorneys.