Legal Dictionary

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Contempt

Contempt (also referred to as “contempt of court”) is a judicial finding of willful disobedience of a court order or some other conduct that disrupts or disrespects a court proceeding. There are two kinds of contempt: civil contempt and criminal contempt. Criminal contempt is contempt for which the penalty is fixed and does not continue. For example, if a lawyer continues to do something the judge has prohibited him from doing, the judge can hold him in contempt and impose an instant fine. Criminal contempt is different than civil contempt in that the penalty for being held in civil contempt is an ongoing one. In other words, the person is fined or jailed until they comply with the court's order.