During any kind of court proceeding – whether for a civil or criminal matter – judges can determine the manner of acceptable conduct that can occur in their courtroom. Anyone who fails to follow the judge’s rules can be held in contempt of court. “Anyone” can include parties in a civil action, a criminal defendant, attorneys, jurors, witnesses, and even the court’s staff members.
When someone violates the judge’s rules for courtroom conduct, they can be held in direct criminal contempt of court. This means that the court has first-hand knowledge of the violator’s behavior, often because a judge or bailiff witnessed it for themselves. Examples might include outbursts, attempting to flee from the courtroom, or disobeying a judge in any other way.
There is also indirect criminal contempt of court. This is any kind of conduct that violates the court’s rules but occurs outside of the courtroom. Examples can include speaking with jurors about the case or violating an order the judge has issued.
Criminal Penalties for Contempt of Court
Under Texas Government Code Section 21.002, those who are held in contempt of a court can be punished with up to six months of jail and a fine of up to $500.
These penalties typically only apply to civil and criminal courts. Being held in contempt of a justice or municipal court – which respectively handle matters such as eviction and traffic violations – is punishable by up to three days in jail and up to $100 in fines.
What Should I Do If I Am Accused of Criminal Contempt of Court?
If you are charged with criminal contempt of court, you are guaranteed the same rights as any other person accused of criminal conduct. You have the right to remain silent and the right to see an attorney.
Exercising these rights can help you avoid unnecessary penalties and legal complications. It may be possible that a judge was being unfair to you or your actions outside of court were entirely misunderstood.
Whatever the circumstances of your contempt charges are, we at Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. can provide the legal support you need to protect your rights. Learn more about what we can do for you by scheduling a consultation with our attorneys today.