New York Penal Law § 215.50 - Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree
Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree is a crime prohibiting certain conduct that interferes with official proceedings. Criminal Contempt in the 2nd Degree is a class A misdemeanor.The Elements of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree
Under NY Penal Law § 215.50, there are several ways one can commit Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree:
- Acting disorderly while the judge is on the bench;
- Causing a disturbance that interrupts court proceedings;
- Intentionally disobeying or resisting a judicial order;
- Unlawful refusal to be sworn as a witness;
- Knowingly publishing a false or grossly inaccurate record of court proceedings;
- Refusing to obey certain judicial rules; or
- Engaging in the distribution of material related to an ongoing trial, demanding certain actions be taken.
There are several ways one can commit Criminal Content in the Second Degree. The most common way involves disobeying an Order of the Court such as an Order of Protection which are commonly issued in Domestic Violence Cases both in criminal court and family court. Other ways of committing Criminal Contempt involve unruly or disrespectful behavior during official court proceedings. For example, standing up during a witness’ testimony and shouting “liar” after being admonished by the judge not to do so on a previous occasion may rise to the level of criminal contempt. Another example would be refusing to leave the courtroom if the judge orders the courtroom to be cleared.
Perhaps the least known example of contempt, however, involves what some consider protesting. Under subsection (7), you cannot call out, shout, hand out literature, or hold signs within 200 feet of the courthouse that relate to an ongoing case if the material demands others take action against the judge or jurors.Related Offenses to NY Penal Law § 215.50
Often, prosecutors bring Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree charges along with one or more of the following:
- Criminal Contempt in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 215.51
- Aggravated Criminal Contempt – NY Penal Law § 215.52
- Tampering with a Juror in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 215.25
- Tampering with a Juror in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 215.23
- Providing a Juror with Gratuity – NY Penal Law § 215.22
- Intimidating a Victim or Witness in the Third Degree– NY Penal Law § 215.15
The defenses to Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree vary, depending on which subsection applies. However, most defenses involve challenging the government’s claim that the defendant’s actions constituted an actual disturbance or disruption. Some of the subsections of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree require the prosecution to prove the defendant acted intentionally, for example, by refusing to follow a court order. In these cases, challenging the defendant’s knowledge of the court’s order may defeat criminal liability.What Are the Penalties for Violating NY Penal Law § 215.50?
Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree is a class A misdemeanor. In New York, class A misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum jail sentence of one year or up to three years of probation. The court may also assess a fine of up to $1,000.Speak with an Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney About Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree Charges Today
If you have an upcoming court date for charges related to criminal contempt, having a skilled attorney representing your interests is crucial. Judges take contempt cases seriously because the allegations giving rise to these charges call their authority into question. At Tilem & Associates, P.C., we have more than 30 years of experience helping individuals facing contempt charges resolve their cases with as little impact on their future as possible. We are immediately available to meet with you to get started working on a compelling defense to the charges you face. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-377-8666. You can also reach us through our online contact form.