NYC Criminal Contempt Attorney
Criminal contempt charges are filed when a person refuses to comply with a court order, proceeding, or directive. A criminal contempt conviction carries serious consequences. You can face criminal contempt charges as a witness or other party to a criminal case, but you may be facing the harshest possible penalties if you have pending charges or prior convictions. If you have been charged with criminal contempt, an NYC criminal contempt lawyer can assess your case to determine the proper strategy to get you the best possible outcome.
What is Criminal Contempt in New York?
You can be charged with criminal contempt any time you refuse to follow an order of the court. Such conduct can include failing to abide by the terms of a written order of the court, refusing to follow a judge’s verbal orders, or refusing to cooperate with the court’s proceedings. Some of the most common reasons that people wind up facing contempt charges include the following:
- Violating of an order of protection;
- Disrupting court proceedings by yelling or similar behavior; and
- Refusing to testify or be sworn to testify.
By far, the most common contempt charge in criminal court is P.L. 215.50(3), which is charged when a person violates an order of protection. Although orders of protection can be issued in civil court, a violation of such order protection is a criminal offense that can result in jail time and a criminal record.
Commonly, defendants are charged with criminal contempt in situations where the party protected by the order of protection changes their mind about the order and asks the defendant to visit. Then, the protected party and the defendant get into an argument, the police are called, and then the defendant gets arrested for criminal contempt. It’s important to know that only a judge can modify an order of protection. Consequently, even though the protected party contacted the defendant and invited the defendant to visit, the protected party doesn’t have the legal authority to modify the order of protection, so the defendant can still be charged with criminal contempt even though the defendant simply responded to the request of the protected party.
Breaking Down the Degrees of Criminal Contempt
There are three types of criminal contempt charges in New York. Only one of these charges is a misdemeanor, and the other two are felonies. Whether you have been charged with misdemeanor or felony contempt, you should contact Cody Warner as soon as possible so he can begin developing a strategic defense for your case.
Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree
P.L. 215.50 defines Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree as engaging in the following conduct:
- Disorderly, contemptuous, disrespectful, or insolent behavior that interrupts the court proceedings;
- Intentionally disobeying a court order or resistance to a lawful process;
- Unlawful and willful refusal to be sworn in as a witness;
- Refusal to answer any proper question after being sworn in;
- Knowingly providing a false or grossly inaccurate report of a court proceeding;
- Avoiding jury duty;
- Intentional refusal or obey an order of the court; or
- Conduct within 200 feet of a courthouse that is intended to interfere with a trial or other court proceeding.
Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree is a class A misdemeanor. If convicted you face up to one year in jail and three years of probation.
Criminal Contempt in the First Degree
Under P.L. 215.51, you can be charged with Criminal Contempt in the First Degree for engaging in the following conduct:
- Refusing to be sworn as a witness before a grand jury or refusing to answer any questions before a grand jury;
- Violating an order of protection by menacing, threatening, or stalking the person protected by the order or by placing that person in reasonable fear of physical harm;
- Violating an order of protection when you have a prior conviction for criminal contempt within the last five years; or
- Violating an order of protection and causing at least $250 worth of damage to the property of the person protected by the order.
Criminal Contempt in the First Degree is a class E felony. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 4 years in prison and up to five years of probation. If you have been convicted of a felony within the last ten years, your sentence could be even more severe.
Aggravated Criminal Contempt
You can be charged with Aggravated Criminal Contempt under P.L. 215.52 in the following situations:
- You violated an order of protection and intentionally or recklessly caused physical injury to the person protected by the order;
- You have committed Criminal Contempt in the First Degree, and you have a prior conviction for Aggravated Criminal Contempt; or
- You have committed Criminal Contempt in the First Degree and have a prior conviction for Criminal Contempt in the First Degree within the last five years.
Aggravated Criminal Contempt is a class D felony. Upon conviction, you could be sentenced to up to seven years of prison and up to five years of probation. If you have been convicted of a felony within the last decade, your sentence would be enhanced and you would face even more time.
Hiring a Criminal Contempt Lawyer
The facts and circumstances surrounding your case will affect how you should navigate your case. An attorney with experience handling criminal contempt charges will be able to assess your case to determine the best path forward.
Contact Cody Warner to Learn Your Options
You can get experienced, results-oriented legal counsel immediately with a single phone call or email. Contact Cody today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and how he can help you.