Violating a Court Order in California
If you are given an order by a Los Angeles court you are required, by law, to follow that order. Violating a court order can have serious consequences, including jail time and criminal charges. If you are facing charges for violating a court order in Los Angeles you should not hesitate to contact an attorney. The Rodriguez Law Group can help to minimize the consequences of your arrest for contempt of court in Los Angeles. Contact us today to set up a free consultation for your criminal case.
Violating a California Court Order
In California, it is a crime to intentionally and purposefully violate a court order. Violating a court order, which is also known as contempt of court, can be charged in a variety of situations. This is because California Penal Code Section 166 PC provides a broad definition for the offense that can be applied to a wide range of behaviors.
In order to get a conviction for contempt of court, the state will have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This will require them to establish each of the following elements of the crime:
- A court issued a lawful written court order that instructed you to:
- Take specific action, or
- Stop engaging in specific behavior;
- You knew about this court order and what it said;
- You had the ability to follow this court order; and
- You willfully violated the terms of this court order.
If the state cannot prove each of these elements you cannot be convicted for violating a court order. In some cases, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove that you knew about the court order and its contents. In Los Angeles, you must have been given the opportunity to read and review any court order that requires you to act in some way.
Examples of Contempt of Court
Court orders come in many shapes and sizes. This means that you can face charges for contempt of court if you violate any lawful court order that is issued. You can face charges for contempt of court under California Penal Code 166 PC if, having been the subject of a court order, you:
- Violate the terms of a court-issued restraining order or stay-away order in a domestic violence case;
- Refuse to testify as a witness;
- Interrupt court proceedings;
- Violate an injunction;
- Show up to court late;
- Refuse to answer a question, or
- Refuse to supply evidence.
Penalties for Violating a Court Order
The court does not like to be disrespected and will not hesitate to assign the maximum possible penalty in your contempt of court case. The crime of violating a restraining order is usually a misdemeanor offense in Los Angeles. This means that if you are convicted for contempt of court under Penal Code 166 PC you could be sentenced to:
- Six months in a Los Angeles County jail;
- Probation; and/or
- $1,000 in fines.
There are certain situations that can result in more serious criminal penalties. The charges for contempt of court in Los Angeles can be aggravated if you:
- Violate an order of protection in a California domestic violence case;
- Violate an order of protection in an elder abuse case;
- Have a prior conviction for stalking and violate an order of protection;
- Own or possess a gun or firearm in specific violation of an order of protection;
- Have prior convictions for violating a court order.
If you are found to be in contempt of court and (at least) one of these aggravating factors is present you can face:
- 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail;
- Mandatory jail time;
- Up to 3 years in a California state prison;
- $10,000 in fines; and
- Additional criminal charges.
Defenses to Violating a Court Order
Just because you are accused of violating a court order does not automatically mean that you will be convicted. When you hire an attorney to defend you, we will argue any legal defense that may be applicable to your case. These arguments are intended to make it more difficult for the prosecution to build a case against you. Defenses to contempt of court in Los Angeles include:
- You did not know about the court order;
- You were not given the opportunity to learn about the contents of the court order;
- The court order was unconstitutional or otherwise unlawful;
- You have been falsely accused;
- You violated the court order by mistake; and
- Violations of your Constitutional rights.
Related Offenses in Los Angeles
Many crimes go hand-in-hand with contempt of court in Los Angeles. These crimes are similar but carry their own specific criminal penalties. It may be possible to be charged with contempt of court in addition to these other related criminal offenses.
Violating a Restraining Order: If you intentionally violate a restraining order in Los Angeles you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense under Penal Code 273.6 PC.
Violating Terms of Probation: Violating your probation is technically the violation of a court order, but will be charged under Penal Code 1203 PC.
Experienced Los Angeles Contempt of Court Attorney
Are you facing criminal charges for violating a court order in Los Angeles? If so, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as you can. Violating a court order can have serious and lifelong consequences, including jail time and a future burdened with a criminal record. When you have a criminal record, even if it is only for a misdemeanor offense, it will be hard to secure a job and rent an apartment. If your violation of a court order was particularly serious you could even face the loss of the right to own a gun and work as a government employee. Our attorneys can help to limit the consequences of your alleged violation.
The Rodriguez Law Group has been helping defendants accused of crime in the greater Los Angeles area for nearly two decades. During this time, we have handled a variety complex legal matters, including charges for contempt of court. We understand that your future is at stake and will fight to get the charges you face reduced or dismissed. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation. We will listen to your case, determine if your rights have been violated, and answer the questions you have.