Contempt of court, in simple terms, is when you disrespect the authority of the court. That sounds rather arbitrary, but certain factors must be in place before you can be found guilty of such a crime.
(And yes, you have to be found guilty of it. Judges can’t just exercise this authority willy-nilly, contrary to popular belief.)
If you do any of the following, you’re likely to be “held” or “found” in contempt:
- You fail to obey a lawful order of the court. (The most common.)
- You show disrespect for the judge. (Less common, though it makes for one heck of a viral YouTube video.)
- You disrupt the proceedings by openly defying or disrespecting the judge. (See defendant flipping judge the bird in the previous video.)
- You publish material when forbidden from doing so or fail to provide said material when ordered. (Usually, contempt of court applies here when it impedes the ability to carry out a fair trial.)
If a Texas judge holds you in contempt of court and you’re found guilty, you will face one of two scenarios: a fine or jail. If you fail to pay the fine, you could be held in further contempt, thus increasing the severity of the punishment.
Ultimately, it’s a battle you’re not going to win. Fortunately, contempt of court charges don’t happen that often, and if you should find yourself on the wrong end of it, there are some options:
1. Pay the fine.
Fines ordinarily are not exorbitant, particularly in civil cases, where the ultimate objective is to move court proceedings along. Criminal contempt is another story. Here you could face stiffer penalties. If you don’t want the contempt charge to derail your life, the easiest thing to do is to pay it. But maybe the judge doesn’t give you this option. In that case, you could end up in jail.
2. Do the time.
Jail time usually isn’t long, but even a little stay can cause seismic problems personally and professionally. You’ll want to spend as little time as possible behind bars, so if the judge has set bail, take advantage of it. Then, make sure you comply with the rest of the proceeding. Contempt isn’t double jeopardy. Each charge is unique and can be punished as such.
Need Bail Help with Contempt of Court or Other Charges?
If you or a loved one find themselves facing unexpected jail time over contempt of court or any other charges, contact us at Doc’s Bail Bonds. We offer no judgment. Only expert support for how to navigate the Dallas area’s system of corrections. Our goal is to put you at ease and guide you through the process.
[Featured Image by The Blue Diamond Gallery]