Bitter divorce, I've always been pro per, she used to be represented but ran out of money. She has been violating multiple orders. Supposed to bring kids for Christmas didn't do it. Transferred $200k from joint account into private account. Dumps my things in front of the house. I became fed up and filed for contempt. Pleadings show that there were orders, she was aware of them, she could follow them but chose not to.
Judge would not arraign her until she had opportunity to consult with appointed defense counsel. Is it typical for the Courts to appoint counsel for contempt defense? What is likely to happen?
Yes, it is typical. Contempt citations bring the risk of penalties and jail time if the judge finds her guilty. These potential penalties qualify contempt actions as "quasi criminal" actions. Under the U.S. Constitution, anyone facing potential court penalties such as these has the right to representation of counsel.
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Courts typically appoint the public defender to defend those who are subject to criminal prosecution. The public defender will only get involved, however, if they meet certain financial guidelines proliferated by the Public Defender's office.
The Public Defender's office, in their first meetings with her, will evaluate whether or not she meets the income guidelines. If she makes too much money they will not be able to represent her and she will be on her own. A decision on that will be made at your next hearing. If she makes too much money the public defender will motion to withdraw and that motion will be granted.
Yes, she is entitled to a public defender if she cannot afford an attorney on her own.
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Since contempt is quasi criminal and could result in fines and possibly imprisonment (though unlikely), the courts will always err on the side of not violating due process rights and rights to counsel. If you had a lawyer, you could probably recover attorneys' fees for indirect contempt! Make sure you study up on contempt proceedings as they can be mini-trials and lots of procedural rules. Have fun!!
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