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No TV courtroom drama is complete without an irate judge losing their patience with a cocky attorney or witness and yelling, “You’re in contempt!” This is usually followed by the target being marched off to a cell by a bailiff.

In New York, you may be found guilty of criminal contempt if you:

  •     Indulge in disorderly conduct in the courtroom, interrupting the proceedings or blatantly violating the judge’s authority,
  •     Creating noise or a disturbance that interferes with the proceedings,
  •     Deliberately resisting or disobeying a court order or mandate and/or
  •     Publish a false version of the court proceedings

New York Penal Law (NYPL) recognizes three primary criminal contempt charges: First Degree, Second Degree, and Aggravated Criminal Contempt.

Criminal Contempt in the First Degree

According to NYPL § 215.51, you commit Criminal Contempt in the First Degree if you knowingly violate an order of protection by:

  •     Using a weapon or making threats in a way that makes the protected party fear injury or death
  •     Indulge in a course of conduct that makes them fear the same outcome
  •     Communicate threats to the protected party or cause those threats to be communicated
  •     Harass the person over the phone
  •     Physically assault the person

Criminal Contempt in the First Degree is a Class E felony that can send you to a New York State penitentiary for one and one-third years to four years, even if you do not have a prior criminal record.

Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree

Under the New York Penal Law, a person is guilty of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree if he/she intentionally disobeys a court mandate and/or shows disrespect to the court by doing any of the following:

  • Disorderly and contemptuous behavior while the court is in session
  • Disregarding a court order, such as an order of protection
  • Refusing to be sworn as a witness in a court proceeding or, after being sworn, refusing to answer proper and legal questions
  • Deliberately publishing a grossly inaccurate report of a proceeding
  • Indulging in public demonstrations outside a courthouse that call the integrity of a proceeding into question
  • Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine and/or a possible maximum of a year in jail.

Aggravated Criminal Contempt

NYPL § 215.52 states that you can be charged with Aggravated Criminal Contempt if you:

  • Knowingly violate an order of protection by physically injuring the protected party
  • Commit Criminal Contempt in the First Degree and have previously been convicted of Aggravated Criminal Contempt
  • Commit Criminal Contempt in the First Degree and have previously been convicted of the same charge within the preceding five years

Aggravated Criminal Contempt is a Class D felony that can send you to prison for up to seven years.

If you are arrested for Criminal Contempt in New York, then you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. A conviction carries a host of unpleasant consequences: incarceration, narrowed employment prospects, loss of some professional licenses, and more. When it comes to your freedom and future, expert advocacy is your best protection. Call the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC at 212-951-1232 for a consultation and visit for more information.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and receipt or viewing does not constitute such relationship.