What Is Criminal Contempt of Court?

What is contempt of court? In court proceedings, the judge determines the type of conduct that can happen in the courtroom. If a person disobeys these rules, the judge can hold them in contempt of court. These guidelines apply to every individual present during the trial, including attorneys, witnesses, jurors, and staff.

Types of Contempt

There are two types of contempt of court:

Direct criminal contempt:

  • This order is issued when a person disrupts or disobeys rules, and the court has first-hand knowledge of the behavior. It usually occurs within the court itself.

Indirect criminal contempt:

  • This type of contempt happens outside of the court. For example, speaking about the case with a juror at a restaurant would result in a contempt order being issued.

Contempt of Court Charge

Charges for criminal contempt are issued separately from the underlying case. For example, say a defendant is on trial for a drug crime. During the proceedings, she stands up and begins walking out of the courtroom. The judge asks her to sit down, but she refuses. The judge will issue a contempt order. Even if she is found innocent of the alleged crime, she will still face penalties for criminal contempt.

What are the Penalties for Contempt of Court?

A common question most folks have is "how much jail time for criminal contempt?" Under Texas Government Code Section 21.002, a person who disobeys the rules of a court other than justice or municipal faces jail time of up to 6 months and a fine of up to $500. If they are in contempt of a justice or municipal court’s rules, they could spend up to 3 days in jail and be fined up to $100.

Is Criminal Contempt a Felony?

Generally speaking, criminal contempt of court is charged as a misdemeanor, though it may be charged as a felony in certain situations. 

Request a Free Case Review with Rodriguez & Gimbert

Contempt of court is considered a criminal matter, and as such, a person issued this type of order may go through a trial process. If you’re facing charges, our team can provide the legal help you need to defend your case. Backed by over 45 years of combined experience, we know how to develop effective and innovative strategies to fight for a favorable result.

For help from a team dedicated to protecting your rights and freedom, call us at (979) 559-3599 or contact us online.