Contempt of court is when a person does not behave appropriately in a court setting, or does not attend court when they were summoned to attend. It is an offense that can attract a fine of up to $12,000 or 12 months jail time – and sometimes both. If you have to appear in court, your legal adviser will advise you how to behave appropriately and then it is up to you to do so.
So exactly what kind of behaviour is considered contempt of court? Here are some examples.
- If you deliberately interrupt the court proceedings verbally, misbehave in court or insult anyone who constitutes the court – that is, those who form part of the court officials and the jury.
- If you insult or obstruct a person who constitutes the court as they are going into the court or out.
- If you refuse to take an oath or affirmation when requested in court.
- If you refuse to give evidence when you are able to do so and compellable.
- If you do not comply with a lawful direction of the court.
- If you don’t attend as a witness or otherwise, when you’ve been summoned and have no reasonable excuse not to go.
- If the court requires you to produce an item and you don’t and have no reasonable excuse for not doing so.