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What is the penalty/punishment for being held in Contempt of Court in Arizona?

Tempe, AZ |

I had to reschedule my original jail time to a different date due to a job meeting. On my second jail time, I was turned away because I did not have the proper I.D.s, and now I am ordered to Show Cause

Attorney Answers 2


I can't speak for Arizona and the law may be different there, but contempt of court is an odd fish. It is not a "crime" in the sense of violating a statute, but is a violation of the inherent power of the judiciary. Therefore, the punishment cannot be determined by legislation and there is no set term. You may have a right to a jury trial if the court is considering a sentence of more than six months, but theoretically the sky is the limit. Only a week or two ago the Illinois Supreme Court considered a case in which a witness who refused an order to testify was sentenced to TWENTY YEARS for contempt. The intermediate level appellate court upheld the sentence. The Illinois Supreme Court found it excessive, but by a divided vote meaning that some members of the court thought it was entirely proper. So, depending on Arizona state law, your exposure may theoretically be close to open-ended.

You won't get twenty years, but retaining an attorney would be a very wise idea.

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If your explanation is true and you have no other known history of failing to comply with court orders, etc., then you may be ok. In hindsight though it would have been best for you to have gone to the court the very next day to rectify the situation rather than waiting for notice of an Order to Show Cause, which it sounds like happened here. You can try to make the pitch on your own, but as with any criminal matter I would suggest you have counsel advocate for you.

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Joshua Sachs

Joshua Sachs


Mr. Orent has provided a realistic and practical response to your specific situation. My answer was intended to put your overall question in its theoretical legal context. There is no disagreement between us.



Thank you so much for both your responses and insights

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