California Penal Code Section 166 PC – Contempt of Court
California Penal Code Section 166 PC makes it a crime for a person to be in contempt of court. That is, PC 166 makes it unlawful for a person to engage in any type of behavior that disrupts the court process. Contempt of court is always charged as a misdemeanor, and a conviction of this offense carries a jail sentence of up to six months.
So, if you have been charged with contempt of court in violation of California Penal Code 166 PC, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to jail. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to achieve the best possible results for you. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.
Text of Contempt of Court Criminal Statute – Penal Code Section 166 PC
According to California Penal Code 166 PC, “(a) Except as provided in subdivisions (b), (c), and (d), a person guilty of any of the following contempts of the court is guilty of a misdemeanor:
(1) Disorderly, contemptuous, or insolent behavior committed during the sitting of a court of justice, in the immediate view and presence of the court, and directly tending to interrupt its proceedings or to impair the respect due to its authority.
(2) The behavior specified in paragraph (1) that is committed in the presence of a referee, while actually engaged in a trial or hearing, pursuant to the order of a court, or in the presence of any jury while actually sitting for the trial of a cause, or upon an inquest or other proceeding authorized by law.
(3) A breach of the peace, noise, or other disturbance directly tending to interrupt the proceedings of the court.
(4) Willful disobedience of the terms as written of any process or court order or out-of-state court order, lawfully issued by a court, including orders pending trial.”
Note: Under this penal code section, any person who is not complying with the judge’s orders, is being loud, is being belligerent, or refuses to be sworn in as a witness can be held in contempt of court in violation of PC 166.
Proving a Person Guilty of Court Contempt in Violation of Penal Code Section 166 PC
For the prosecution to convict a person of contempt of court in violation of PC 166, the prosecutor must show that the defendant willfully engaged in any of the following types of behavior:
- The defendant engaged in disrespectful behavior, such as yelling, swearing, or taunting the court clerk
- The defendant willfully disobeyed a written court order to perform or refrain from performing an action
- The defendant refused to be sworn in as a witness
- The defendant, while serving as a witness, refused to answer a material question with no justifiable legal exception
- The defendant published a false account of the court proceedings
- The defendant engaged in behavior that disrupted the proceedings
- The defendant violated a protective order, such as a restraining order
Penalties if Convicted of Contempt of Court
If the prosecution convicts a person of contempt of court, he or she faces the following potential penalties:
- Conviction of a misdemeanor offense
- Imprisonment in county jail for up to six months
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Placement on informal summary probation
- Performance of community service in lieu of paying the fine
Note: The court is free to impose tougher penalties if the defendant violates a domestic violence restraining order, violates a protective order while he has previously been convicted of stalking, or the defendant has possession of or owns a firearm in violation of a court order prohibiting from owning or possessing a firearm.
Defenses for Contempt of Court Charges
If you have been charged with contempt of court in violation of penal code 166 PC, there are a number of defenses that your attorney can make to defend you and keep you out of jail. Here are some of the defenses that may be available to you:
- The defendant was not in contempt of court
- The defendant did not act willfully – This is a defense because for the court to convict a person of contempt of court charges, it must show that the defendant acted to intentionally disrupt court proceedings, so if the defendant acted accidentally, this would be a defense to contempt of court charges
- The defendant did not engage in any disorderly or disruptive behavior
- The defendant is being falsely accused of being in contempt of court
- The defendant did not know of the court order
- The defendant was not able to follow the court order
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Contempt of Court
1) If I did not read my court order and violated it, can I be found in contempt of court?
Yes, you can. If you had an opportunity to read your court order and you did not, you can be found in contempt of court. You’re an adult and it is your responsibility to ensure that you know and adhere to the terms of your court order.
2) Is a probation violation considered contempt of court?
No, a probation violation is not contempt of court. That said, violating the terms of your probation can result in you being sent to jail or prison, depending on the circumstances surrounding the violation of the terms of your probation.
3) What does it mean to be in contempt of court?
For a person to be in contempt of court, the person must have engaged in disruptive or disrespectful behavior in court. If you engaged in such conduct, you can be charged with misdemeanor contempt of court.
Contact an Experienced Contempt of Court Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with contempt of court, you should immediately contact an experienced contempt of court defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to jail.
Our attorneys have defended thousands of clients, so they have the knowledge and experience necessary to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
At the outset of every case, one of your experienced criminal defense attorneys will go through the facts of your case to determine whether a dismissal is possible. If he believes that a dismissal is possible, he will communicate this to the prosecution. If the prosecution, for any reason, refuses to dismiss the case against you, our attorneys will do all that they can to negotiate the best possible plea deal for you.
Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.