Contempt of Court in Aliso Viejo
Contempt of court occurs when a judge feels someone is improperly challenging or ignoring the court’s authority, and is categorized as either criminal or civil. Criminal contempt is when the contemnor interferes with the ability of the court to function properly. With direct contempt, it happens in the presence of the court. An example would be yelling at the judge or refusing to testify in a manner that is disrespectful and/or impedes the court’s ability to function. With indirect contempt, it happens outside the presence of the judge, and is most often the case with civil contempt. Civil contempt of court happens when someone fails to adhere to an order from the court or fails to satisfy a court order. For example, someone who fails to pay court ordered child support or failing to abide by a child custody order can be punished for civil contempt.
In the city of Aliso Viejo and in the state of California, ‘contempt of court’ essentially refers to behavior that is disrespectful of the court or its process. The purpose of the ‘contempt of court’ charge is to assert the authority of the court and to maintain its dignity and respect.Behavior Defined as Being in Contempt of Court
California Penal Code Section 166 defines the conduct that the court would define as ‘contempt of court’. Some of the behavior viewed as disrespectful and therefore in ‘contempt of court’ includes:
- Interrupting court proceedings in an unbecoming manner. For example, by excessively shouting in a court proceeding
- Publishing a grossly inaccurate/false account of court proceedings
- Deliberately disobeying the terms of an issued injunction or court order
- Declining to be sworn in as a witness or refusing to answer a material question when there is no legal exception to do so
- Deliberately and knowingly violating a protective/stay-away order that involves elder abuse, adult dependent abuse or domestic abuse
To defend against a PC 166 charge, you need an expert defense attorney who can represent you and prove the following:
- That you did not know or lacked requisite knowledge. For example, you did not know there was a court order because it was mailed to a wrong address
- You did not act intentionally. For example, you visited a cinema where you happened to meet someone you were ordered by the court to stay away from or
- You have been falsely accused of being in contempt of court
Another defense that could be used is that you were simply unable to abide by the order. Because of this, the contempt was not done willfully and therefore does not satisfy all the elements of what is defined as contempt of court. This is a common defense for people instructed by the court to pay child support or other fees, but do not have the financial capability to do so.
It is important to call a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, for the best defense to be strategized. We can defend you at Johnson Criminal Law Group. Call our law firm immediately.