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Contempt of Court Laws in California – Penal Code 166 PC
Penal Code 166 PC, the California statute, outlines the offense of contempt of court. A person commits this crime if they take part in any behavior that disrespects the court process. It is an offense that carries a 6-months maximum jail-term penalty.
“A person guilty of any of the following contempt of court is guilty of a crime: (1) insolent, contemptuous, or disorderly behavior committed during the sitting of a court of justice, in the immediate view and presence of the court, and directly interrupting its proceedings or to lessen the respect due to its authority.” Penal Code 166 PC.
Strong Legal Defenses
A defendant may challenge a finding of contempt by declaring a legal defense. Usual defenses include showing that:
Most violations of these laws are criminal offenses as opposed to an infraction or a felony charge.
The offense is punishable by Custody in a county jail for a maximum of six months, and/or A fine of $1,000 (maximum amount).
A judge can award jail time alternatively as misdemeanor (or summary) probation.
The following key questions will be answered in this article by the California criminal defense lawyers of Spodek Law Group:
Penal Code 166 PC outlines specific conduct that constitutes “contempt of court.” Examples of illegal conduct include:
“Willfully,” as used above, means when a person commits an act, either willingly or on purpose.
Although this statute outlines several criminal behaviors, the most common offense is defying a court order.
Defying a court order
For a prosecutor to convict a person of contempt of court for violating a court order, he/ she must prove the following:
As to a defendant being aware of a court order, a district attorney must prove that:
Note: Both adults and minors can be charged with violating a court order.
2. Are there legal defenses available to Penal Code 166?
A defendant can challenge a contempt charge with a proper legal defense.
The “No willful breach of a court order” Defense
As to charges of defying a court order, note that a defendant must willfully breach an order , to be considered guilty under this section.
It is simply a defense for an accused to say that they disobeyed an order on purpose.
Example: A superior court issues a lawful order directing Pete and Andrea (two co-workers) not to interact with one another. One evening Pete accidentally comes into contact with Andrea at a restaurant.
Here, none of the two parties are guilty of contempt because there was no willful contact.
The “No evidence of disorderly conduct” Defense
Recall that this statute outlines specific behaviors that constitute “disorderly conduct.” Thus, a defendant can express his innocence by stating that his behavior did not rise to anything outlined in the statute.
The “Falsely Accused “ Defense
False accusations are very likely under these laws. In addition, this is usually the case in disobeying an order matter when a relationship has worsened or at the verge of breaking, and One of the parties wants to get back at the other.
Since it is a defense, the accused might say that another person unjustly blamed him.
3. What are the penalties for PC 166?
A violation of PC 166 is typically a misdemeanor.
Any criminal action to contempt of court is punishable by incarceration in county jail for a maximum of six months, and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.
It may be possible to do community service as an alternative to the fine.
Moreover, some situations attract more serious penalties. For instance, when an accused:
In the above cases, the crime is still charged as an offense, but can be punished by custody in jail for a maximum of one year.
Felony breach of a court order under PC 166(c) (4)
Subsequent defiance of a restraining order can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony if:
As a misdemeanor, the penalties include up to one year in jail. As a felony, penalties include either16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison.
Wobblers are crimes considered as a misdemeanor or a felony.
4. Can a convict get this crime expunged?
A person can get an expungement if convicted of contempt of court, and if he/she completes his or her jail term, or every condition of probation.
Note: An expungement gets rid of many of the limitations associated with a conviction.
5. Are there crimes associated to contempt that a defendant could be charged with?
The three crimes below are connected to contempt cases, these are:
Contact us for a free consultation, legal help, and legal advice.
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