Contempt of Court Law in California

Sec 166 of the California Penal Code criminalizes any behavior that is deemed disrespectful to the court process. This crime is called contempt of court and the examples are as follows:

  1. Excessively loud or belligerent acts;
  2. Refusal to be sworn in as a witness and/or refusal to comply with the judge’s requests during any court proceeding;
  3. Willful disobedience to a court order;

The last act is considered as the severest form of contempt of court and would merit the severest penalties. The following are also acts falling within the purview of this crime:

  1. False or grossly inaccurate publication of an account of a court proceeding;
  2. Willful and knowing violation of a protective or stay-away order involving domestic violence, elder abuse or adult dependent abuse;

In order to be convicted the crime, the following elements need to be proven:

  1. The judge issued a legal order;
  2. The accused knew about the legal order;
  3. The accused had the ability to comply with the order;
  4. The accused willfully failed to comply with such order;

While there are legal defenses that apply to Sec 166 of the California Penal Code, the following are the imposable penalties for the crime of contempt of court.

Often prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense, the imposable penalty is up to six (6) months in county jail and payment of fines amounting to $1,000. When acts of contempt considered as aggravated acts, the penalties are increased for the following:

  1. For violations of terms of domestic violence protection orders, the imposable penalties can be found in Sec 273.6 of the California Penal Code for violations of protective orders;
  2. For violations of protective orders and have a previous conviction for stalking;
  3. For ownership or possession of firearms in violation of court orders.

The crime of contempt of court is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.