Contempt of Court is a refusal to obey any legal order, mandate or decree, made or given by any judge. A charge of contempt of court may involve failing to appear at a scheduled hearing or failing to abide by a condition of bond the judge ordered. In many cases, contempt can also involve the defendant’s behavior and actions in the courtroom towards the Judge after being given an order by the Judge. A person convicted of contempt of court faces up to 1 year in the County Jail.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for Contempt of Court, call us today at (954) 522-9997 to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney about your situation or to schedule a Free Initial Consultation.
The following Florida Statutes and Rules of Procedure provide more information on the offense of Contempt of Court.
Florida Statute 38.23 – Contempts defined.
A refusal to obey any legal order, mandate or decree, made or given by any judge either in term time or in vacation relative to any of the business of said court, after due notice thereof, shall be considered a contempt, and punished accordingly. But nothing said or written, or published, in vacation, to or of any judge, or of any decision made by a judge, shall in any case be construed to be a contempt.
Florida Statute 38.22 – Power to punish contempts.
Every court may punish contempts against it whether such contempts be direct, indirect, or constructive, and in any such proceeding the court shall proceed to hear and determine all questions of law and fact.
Florida Statute 775.02 – Punishment of common-law offenses.
When there exists no such provision by statute, the court shall proceed to punish such offense by fine or imprisonment, but the fine shall not exceed $500, nor the imprisonment 12 months.
Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.830 – DIRECT CRIMINAL CONTEMPT
A criminal contempt may be punished summarily if the court saw or heard the conduct constituting the contempt committed in the actual presence of the court. The judgment of guilt of contempt shall include a recital of those facts on which the adjudication of guilt is based. Prior to the adjudication of guilt the judge shall inform the defendant of the accusation against the defendant and inquire as to whether the defendant has any cause to show why he or she should not be adjudged guilty of contempt by the court and sentenced therefor. The defendant shall be given the opportunity to present evidence of excusing or mitigating circumstances. The judgment shall be signed by the judge and entered of record. Sentence shall be pronounced in open court.
Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.840 – INDIRECT CRIMINAL CONTEMPT
A criminal contempt, except as provided in rule 3.830 concerning direct contempts, shall be prosecuted in the following manner:
(a) Order to Show Cause. The judge, on the judge‘s own motion or on affidavit of any person having knowledge of the facts, may issue and sign an order directed to the defendant, stating the essential facts constituting the criminal contempt charged and requiring the defendant to appear before the court to show cause why the defendant should not be held in contempt of court. The order shall specify the time and place of the hearing, with a reasonable time allowed for preparation of the defense after service of the order on the defendant.
(b) Motions; Answer. The defendant, personally or by counsel, may move to dismiss the order to show cause, move for a statement of particulars, or answer the order by way of explanation or defense. All motions and the answer shall be in writing unless specified otherwise by the judge. A defendant‘s omission to file motions or answer shall not be deemed as an admission of guilt of the contempt charged.
(c) Order of Arrest; Bail. The judge may issue an order of arrest of the defendant if the judge has reason to believe the defendant will not appear in response to the order to show cause. The defendant shall be admitted to bail in the manner provided by law in criminal cases.
(d) Arraignment; Hearing. The defendant may be arraigned at the time of the hearing, or prior thereto at the defendant‘s request. A hearing to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant shall follow a plea of not guilty. The judge may conduct a hearing without assistance of counsel or may be assisted by the prosecuting attorney or by an attorney appointed for that purpose. The defendant is entitled to be represented by counsel, have compulsory process for the attendance of witnesses, and testify in his or her own defense. All issues of law
and fact shall be heard and determined by the judge.
(e) Disqualification of Judge. If the contempt charged involves disrespect to or criticism of a judge, the judge shall disqualify himself or herself from presiding at the hearing. Another judge shall be designated by the chief justice of the supreme court.
(f) Verdict; Judgment. At the conclusion of the hearing the judge shall sign and enter of record a judgment of guilty or not guilty. There should be included in a judgment of guilty a recital of the facts constituting the contempt of which the defendant has been found and adjudicated guilty.
(g) Sentence; Indirect Contempt. Prior to the pronouncement of sentence, the judge shall inform the defendant of the accusation and judgment against the defendant and inquire as to whether the defendant has any cause to show why sentence should not be pronounced. The defendant shall be afforded the opportunity to present evidence of mitigating circumstances. The sentence shall be pronounced in open court and in the presence of the defendant.
For more information, Call the R. David Williams Law Firm today at (954) 522-9997 to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney about your situation or to schedule a Free Initial Consultation. David Williams represents individuals in criminal defense and DUI cases in the South Florida Florida area, including the cities of Hallandale, Hollywood, Dania Beach, Sunrise, Cooper City, Davie, Weston, Miami, North Miami, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderhill, Wilton Manors, Pompano Beach, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and others.