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Criminal Contempt In The First Degree

Those who fail to cooperate with a grand jury or violate a Protective Order commit criminal contempt in the first degree. The most common reason for this charge is violating a Protective Order related to a domestic violence case. In New York, criminal contempt in the first degree is a class E felony, which is punishable by up to four years in prison.

If you have been arrested for criminal contempt, it is best to seek the legal guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in New York.

New York Criminal Contempt In The First Degree Attorney

If you or someone you know has been arrested for criminal contempt in the first degree, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney about your case. Serious penalties may result if you are convicted and a knowledgeable defense lawyer can be extremely helpful. To retain experienced legal counsel, contact Law Office of Stephanie Selloni.

Attorney Stephanie Selloni will evaluate your case for strengths and weaknesses. Allow her to determine the best strategy for fighting the charges against you.

Call the Law Office of Stephanie Selloni for a free consultation today at (516) 972-1212 for your criminal contempt case in Garden City, Hempstead, Westbury, Floral Park, Mineola, and the surrounding areas of Nassau County, Long Island.

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Information Center

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Order Of Protection

An order of protection is a court order that forbids a person from acting a certain way towards a victim. Different elements will be involved in determining these actions. One is the nature of the bond that exists between the target of the order of protection and the victim who requested it. The order may forbid things such as the offender visiting the victim, calling them on the phone, interacting with them, sending them texts or emails, etc. It might also result in a person’s temporary loss of some parental rights. A person could also be forbidden from going to the location where a victim works or attends school. If they live together, the defendant might have to vacate their home to comply with the order.

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Criminal Contempt In The Second Degree Vs. First Degree

When a judge issues an order of protection, the court explains to the defendant the terms of the order and what actions they must avoid. A “full order of protection” prohibits the defendant from all the standard actions (assaulting, stalking, threatening) and from communicating with the complainant entirely. Typically, this means no calls, texts, emails, letters, or even attempts to communicate through friends. Disregarding the order of protection can lead to criminal contempt in the second degree. A threat doesn’t have to be made if the order states no contact of any kind. To be found guilty of criminal contempt in the first degree, one must commit a second-degree offense and:

  • Intentionally provoke fear in the victim by making threats of physical harm to the person directly or through another party;
  • Imply harm to the person by showing a dangerous weapon;
  • Physically assault the person; and
  • Harass the person

It’s important to note that menacing or making repeated calls to the person for whose protection the order was issued with the intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or frighten that person are illegal actions. Even if a conversation doesn’t take place between the two parties, the defendant can be charged with criminal contempt solely for reaching out.

Intentionally or recklessly causing damage to the protected person’s property in an amount greater than $250 also constitutes criminal contempt.

In addition to contacting the person protected, a contempt order can result from actions in the courtroom.

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Proving Intent

For a person to be found guilty of contempt in the first degree, the acts must be intentional. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements:

  1. The court issued an Order of Protection, and it was duly served, or the defendant had knowledge because they were in court when the order was issued;
  2. The order was issued for the protection of the individual;
  3. The defendant violated the order by placing or attempting to place the victim in fear of physical injury or death by communicating with or causing communication to be initiated, even if anonymously; and
  4. The defendant communicated intentionally.

If any of these elements isn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant must not be found guilty of the crime.

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Possible Defenses To Criminal Contempt In The First Degree

One common defense to a charge of criminal contempt in the first degree is based on accidental violation of an Order of Protection. For example, if the defendant and the person protected accidentally end up at the same location, the defendant may be able to fight a criminal contempt charge. If the defendant immediately leaves the location once they discover the complainant is there, they further strengthen the accidental violation defense.

Another possible defense is the defendant was unable to understand what the judge was saying due to a language barrier or another issue.

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Possible Punishment For Criminal Contempt

The maximum sentence for contempt of court in the first degree is four years in prison. The sentence may also include a fine of up to $5,000 and 5-years of probation.

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Additional Resources

New York State Senate Legislation – Follow the link provided to view the specific New York penal code for criminal contempt in the first degree. Section 215.51, chapter 40, part 3, title L, article 215 explains criminal contempt and all actions that constitute the crime. The law also includes the possible maximum sentence for a guilty conviction.

New York State Unified Court System – Follow the link provided to visit the official website for the New York State Unified Court System. The site includes a PDF of Penal Law Criminal Contempt in the First Degree. In addition to the definition and elements, it includes the requirements/checklist a jury must use to determine if a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Garden City Criminal Contempt In The First Degree Attorney | Nassau County, NY

If you have been arrested for criminal contempt in the first degree, contact Law Office of Stephanie Selloni. Charges like these have serious consequences and deserves a legal team that outworks the prosecution. At Law Office of Stephanie Selloni, defense attorney Stephanie Selloni will work together to develop a strong defense strategy.

Law Office of Stephanie Selloni assists individuals arrested in Mineola, Freeport, Garden City, Long Island, Westbury, Hempstead, and Floral Park. You can have your case reviewed when you call (516) 972-1212 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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