Contempt of Court is the intentional disobedience of a court order.

Referred to simply as “contempt“, it is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful towards a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies authority, justice, and dignity of the court. It manifests itself in willful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law, which is often behavior that is illegal because it does not obey or respect the rules of a law court.

As explained in the People’s Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill, “there are essentially two types of contempt: (1) being rude, disrespectful to the judge or other attorneys or causing a disturbance in the courtroom, particularly after being warned by the judge; (2) willful failure to obey an order of the court.” Contempt proceedings are especially used to enforce equitable remedies, such as injunctions.

When a court decides that an action constitutes contempt of court, it can issue a court order that in the context of a court trial or hearing declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court’s authority, called “found” or “held in contempt”; this is the judge’s strongest power to impose sanctions for acts that disrupt the court’s normal process.

A finding of being in contempt of court may result from a failure to obey a lawful order of a court, showing disrespect for the judge, disruption of the proceedings through poor behavior, or publication of material deemed likely to jeopardize a fair trial. A judge may impose sanctions such as a fine or jail for someone found guilty of contempt of court. Judges in common law systems usually have more extensive power to declare someone in contempt than judges in civil law systems. The client or person must be proven to be guilty before he/she will be punished.