Contempt of Court 2 Types of Contempt of Court • Criminal Contempt – Used to punish disobedience and preserve authority and dignity of the court – Grounds for criminal contempt are exclusively those specified in NCGS 5A-11 (a) (1)-(a) (10) – Direct criminal contempt – Indirect criminal contempt Civil contempt – Used to encourage compliance with court’s orders – Failure to comply with an order of a court is a continuing civil contempt as long as: The order remains in force; The purpose of the order may still be served by compliance with the order; The noncompliance by the person to whom the order is directed is willful; and A person to whom the order is directed is able to comply with the order or is able to take reasonable measures that would enable the person to comply with the order Direct Criminal Contempt Criminal contempt is direct criminal contempt when the act is committed within the sight or hearing of a presiding judicial official; and Is committed in or in immediate proximity to the room where proceedings are being held before the court; and Is likely to interrupt or interfere with matters then before the court. Indirect Criminal Contempt Any criminal contempt other than direct criminal contempt; and Punishable only after proceedings required by GS 5A-15. Summary Proceedings for Direct Criminal Contempt NCGS 5A-14 Summary Proceedings – Summary imposition of measures in response to direct criminal contempt – When necessary to restore order or maintain dignity and authority of the court and – Measures are imposed substantially contemporaneously with the contempt Before imposing measures under this section, the judicial official must give the person charged with contempt : – Summary notice of the charges; and – Summary opportunity to respond – Must find facts supporting the summary imposition of measures in response to contempt Plenary Proceedings for Direct and Indirect Criminal Contempt NCGS 5A-15 Used when a judicial official chooses not to proceed summarily with a person charged with direct criminal contempt or when he may not proceed summarily The judicial official may proceed by an order directing the person to appear before a judge at a reasonable time and show cause why he should not be held in contempt A copy must be given to the person charged Standard of Proof in Criminal Contempt NCGS 5A-14 (b) and NCGS 5A-15 (f) mandate that facts in criminal contempt cases must be found Beyond a reasonable doubt Who Prosecutes Contempt? NCGS 5A-15 (g): In criminal contempt a judge may appoint – A prosecutor; or, if apparent conflict of interest, – A member of the Bar to represent the court NCGS 5A-23 (f): In civil contempt a person with an interest in enforcing the order may present the case for a finding of civil contempt Punishment for Criminal Contempt Censure Imprisonment up to 30 days Fine not to exceed $500 Or any combination thereof EXCEPT… EXCEPT… Violation of GS 5A-11 (8): – Censure – Imprisonment not to exceed 6 months – Fine not to exceed $500 – Or any combination of the 3 AND… AND… A person who has NOT been arrested, who fails to comply with a nontestimonial identification order is subject to – Censure – Imprisonment not to exceed 90 days – Fine not to exceed $500 – Or any combination of the 3 EXCEPT… EXCEPT… Except for contempt under GS 5A-11 (5) (9) fine or imprisonment may NOT be imposed for criminal contempt, direct or indirect unless: – The act or omission was willful contemptuous; or – The act or omission was proceeded by a clear warning by the court that the conduct is imrpoper Consequences of Civil Contempt A person found in civil contempt my be imprisoned as long as the civil contempt continues, EXCEPT… EXCEPT… NCGS 5A-21 (b)(1)-(b)(2): A person found in civil contempt but not arrested for failure to comply with a nontestimonial identification order may not be imprisoned more than 90 days unless the person is arrested on probable cause and the period of imprisonment for a person found in civil contempt may not exceed 90 days for the same act of disobedience or refusal to comply with an order of the court, but may be recommitted for successive periods up to 90 days not to exceed 12 months after a hearing de novo. ALTHOUGH… ALTHOUGH… Notwithstanding NCGS 5A-21 (b)(2): a person found in civil contempt for failure to comply with a court order to perform an act that does not require the payment of a monetary judgment, the person may be imprisoned as long as the civil contempt continues without further hearing Same Conduct A person may not be held in criminal and civil contempt for the same conduct.
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