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Photo Of Kyle B. Sawyer

Charged With A Crime? It Doesn’t Mean You’re Guilty.

Contempt Charges By A Court

Denver Civil And Criminal Contempt Charges

If you are being charged with contempt of court in Arapahoe, Denver or Douglas County, it is because a judge thinks you have refused to obey a court’s orders. A contempt of court charge is initiated by a judge either on the judge’s own initiative, or at the request of an opposing party. Regardless, the penalty for contempt of court can result in an immediate sentence to jail, or jail following a hearing.

Civil Contempt

Colorado statutes label contempt as “remedial” or “punitive.” C.R.C.P. 107. “Remedial” sanctions are “sanctions imposed to force compliance with a lawful order or to compel performance of an act within the person’s power or present ability to perform.” C.R.C.P. 107(a)(5). Proceedings that involve a remedial purpose are civil. “Civil, as distinguished from criminal contempt, is a sanction to enforce compliance with an order of the court or to compensate for losses or damages sustained by reason of noncompliance.”

Domestic support obligations are a common foundation for civil contempt in Jefferson, Adams and Broomfield counties. Ways to distinguish civil from criminal contempt are to examine whether the contempt can be purged if payments were made as ordered, whether the purpose of the contempt is to vindicate the interests of third parties rather than the dignity of the court, and whether the person who is the subject of the contempt citation has the ability to obey the order (financial inability to pay, for example).

Criminal Contempt

Criminal contempt occurs when the purpose of the contempt is to vindicate the dignity of the court by punishing the contemnor in Weld, Grand and Larimer counties. Courts have further defined criminal contempt as “conduct that obstructs the administration of justice or tends to bring the court into disrepute.”

“Punitive” sanctions involve “[p]unishment by unconditional fine, fixed sentence of imprisonment, or both, for conduct that is found to be offensive to the authority and dignity of the court.” C.R.C.P. 107(a)(4).

Modern Examples Underlying Contempt Charges

  • Violation of a protection order
  • Failure to pay child support as ordered by the court, and contained within the family support registry
  • Failure to appear under a subpoena
  • Failure to obey order of the court to produce documents
  • Refusal to testify in open court as ordered by a judge
  • Disorderly conduct in a courtroom

If committed in the judge’s presence, in most circumstances, the judge is required to give some warning to the person before finding them in contempt.

Your Lawyer’s Role In Contempt Charges

At the point you’ve been charged with contempt, a judge is finished listening to you. You need an advocate who understands the judge’s motivation and language. Since jail is a possible consequence of your charge, you must treat contempt with great care.  If you have been notified of possible contempt charges, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact our experienced contempt lawyers 24 hours a day at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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