Contempt comes in many forms. In its most classic version, contempt may occur within the courtroom, whereby a judge deems you in contempt for disorderly conduct or for deliberately resisting or disobeying a court order. More often than not, the courtroom contempt is seen within the federal realm, where a witness previously issued a subpoena refuses to answer questions and refuses to participate in a federal grand jury inquiry.
In New York, a court-issued Order of Protection prohibits an individual from committing certain acts to or around the person who requested protection. A full order (or stay away order) bans all forms of contact while a limited one only prohibits certain behaviors or simply subjects the full order to any subsequent conditions and carve-outs implemented by a family court.
Orders of Protection are typically associated with domestic violence offenses such as stalking and assault, but can also be issued in situations involving reckless endangerment, assault, and disorderly conduct. Examples of restricted behaviors include:
First Degree: A Class E-felony which carries the potential for jail time, this charge
requires that an individual not only violate an order of protection but also that he or she used a weapon, made certain threats, or assaulted the protected party.
Other forms of aggravated criminal contempt, or criminal contempt in the second and third degrees, are commonly charged where an individual recklessly or intentionally injured the protected party or has a prior contempt conviction.
As it relates to disorderly conduct within the courtroom setting, if an individual refuses to be sworn in as a witness, refuses to answer proper and legal questions, misbehaves while court is in session, indulges in public demonstrations while call the court’s integrity into question, or publishes grossly inaccurate reporting of a proceeding, a second-degree contempt charge will follow.
What many recipients do not understand is that the person protected by an order of protection does not have the authority to permit the defendant to disobey it. An order can only be modified or vacated by the court. This means that if the person who took out the order against you changes their mind and decides to communicate with you, then you can be arrested for criminal contempt if you respond.
If you are being prosecuted for contempt, or are alleged to have violated a criminal or family court order of protection, hire a former prosecutor and seasoned defense attorney who has dealt with these charges on both sides of the courtroom. Being charged with violating a court’s order is serious, but is only one small piece of the puzzle. What your defense attorney does afterwards, by way of investigation and creative advocacy, will both increase your chances of successfully walking away from these accusations and shape the rest of your life.
The sooner you put your case in the hands of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the more likely your matter will end favorably.