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New York Penal Law § 215.50 - Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree

Respected New York Criminal Defense Lawyers Representing Individuals Charged With Disrupting Court Proceedings

Second-Degree Criminal Contempt is a crime that prohibits specific conduct interfering with official proceedings. Criminal Contempt in the 2nd Degree is a class A misdemeanor.

Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree Factors

According to NY Penal Law § 215.50, there are various methods through which one can commit Second-Degree Criminal Contempt:

  1. Acting disorderly while the judge is on the bench;
  2. Causing a disturbance that interrupts court proceedings;
  3. Intentionally disobeying or resisting a judicial order;
  4. Unlawful refusal to be sworn as a witness;
  5. Knowingly publishing a false or grossly inaccurate record of court proceedings;
  6. Refusing to obey certain judicial rules; or
  7. Engaging in the distribution of material related to an ongoing trial, demanding certain actions be taken.
Examples of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree

One can commit Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree through various actions, most of which involve behaving disruptively or disrespectfully 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 Crimes to NY Penal Law § 215.50

Prosecutors typically 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
What Defenses Can Be Used Against Charges of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree?

The defenses against Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree vary based on the applicable subsection. Most defenses center on challenging the government's assertion that the defendant's actions genuinely caused a 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.

Consult With a Seasoned New York Criminal Defense Attorney Regarding Charges of Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree 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 25 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.

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