Violation of Court Order Lawyers Representing Clients Charged in Mesa
There are many behaviors and actions that may cause someone to be in violation of a court order — and sometimes, lack of action can also be considered a violation. For example, if you were issued a restraining order against you during a difficult divorce case, you would be in violation of the court order by approaching or contacting the protected person. Another example is failing to appear at a scheduled hearing date in court — in some cases, not showing up can result in additional charges and complications to your case. So, what happens if you violate a court order in Arizona? Can you go to jail? Our criminal defense attorneys explain what you need to know about violations of court orders in Arizona.
What Happens if You Violate a Court Order in Arizona?
If you end up violating a court order in Arizona, you might end up being charged with contempt of court, regardless of your reason for not following the court order. State laws tend to broadly define contempt, and there are many examples of situations that may lead you to a contempt charge.
For instance, something seemingly harmless as not showing up to a scheduled court date may be a sure way to complicate your case, as it may result in additional charges and you could be considered to be in contempt of court. Failing to follow orders such as making monthly child support payments or respecting a parenting schedule can also result in a contempt charge. In short, when someone violates a court order or behaves in a way that disturbs court proceedings, they may be charged with contempt.
What Is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Contempt?
When a person is charged with contempt, the charges can be civil or criminal in nature. An individual can be charged with civil contempt if he or she fails to comply with a previously issued court order (such as providing certain documents to the opposing party by a predetermined deadline). Some civil proceedings including family law cases may require the defendant to serve a jail term only until he or she can comply with the order. Once the individual complies with the order, he or she can be released.
Civil contempt charges seek to enforce compliance and cause the individual to obey the court order and take action as required, but it does not seek to punish that person. Criminal contempt, on the other hand, seeks to punish the non-compliant party and — unlike a civil contempt charge — the offense cannot be purged by simply meeting the court-required obligations. In a criminal contempt charge, the non-compliant party will have a chance to argue why they should not be found guilty, but if convicted, they will need to face the penalties imposed by the judge.
What Are the Penalties for Violating a Court Order?
Penalties for violating a court order will vary depending on the specifics of the order and on whether the non-compliant party is being charged with civil or criminal contempt. As an example, it is common for one of the parties in a divorce battle to violate a court order and not make child support payments. Failing to make child support payments can result in a civil contempt charge, and as mentioned above, besides making up for late payments, the party charged with contempt may face jail time until all child support payments are current.
For criminal contempt charges, you may be charged with a misdemeanor and be required to serve time in jail or be placed on probation, along with paying fines that can be as much as $500 or more (as is the case for failing to appear in court). Things can get more complicated if the reason for which you are required to appear in court is another criminal charge. If you are dealing with a felony charge, failure to appear in court may mean you will receive an additional felony charge. If you were facing a DUI-related charge, you may lose your license and be dealing with additional charges.
How Can an Attorney Help Me Avoid a Contempt Conviction in Arizona?
If you have been informed that the other party in a legal case (such as a family law dispute) is filing for a Motion for Contempt and plans to bring civil contempt charges against you, it is important to speak to an attorney right away. The same applies to criminal contempt charges, whether you are at risk of being arrested or have already been detained. A Mesa violation of court order attorney can employ effective negotiation strategies to try and settle the situation even before it goes to court (in a civil case), or can present several different arguments to dismantle or reduce a criminal contempt charge.
One of these arguments may be to demonstrate that the evidence presented was insufficient to prove that the defendant willfully disobeyed a court order. Another possibility is to convince the court that the language used in the court order was unclear or ambiguous. The defendant may also have made a mistake of fact, or the statute of limitations for the alleged violation has already expired. There are many ways an attorney can help you secure a better outcome, but doing nothing or hoping the charges will go away is risky and most likely ineffective for your case. Reach out to the legal team at the Naegle Law Firm, PLC in Mesa, AZ at (480) 378-9000 and see how we can help you.