Contempt of Court: What You Need to Know

16 October 2017
 Categories: , Blog


If you have been accused of a criminal offence, you will be called before a judge and asked to enter a plea. If you plead not guilty to the charges which the state has brought against you, you will then face a trial in which your criminal defence lawyer and the state prosecution will present evidence which supports their positions. A jury of your peers will listen to this evidence and will then be directed by the judge to reach a verdict. The procedures of the Australian legal system and the courts are set out explicitly in law. If you conduct yourself in such a way which is judged to bring the court or the law into contempt, you may be charged with contempt of court. Below is a guide on actions and behaviour you should avoid if you want to avoid this charge.

Being disrespectful towards the judge

When you are in court, you should treat the judge with respect. This is means addressing them politely, listening to what they have to say and following their instructions. If you are disrespectful to the judge, it is viewed as an attack on the dignity and the legitimacy of the court and the rule of law. If you disagree with anything the judge has said, you should raise your concerns with your criminal lawyer rather than speaking directly to the judge. Your lawyer will be able to approach the bench with your concerns following the procedures of the court. 

Not complying with court proceedings

If you fail to comply with the court proceedings, you may also be charged with contempt of court. Complying with court proceedings means that you must not interrupt court officials as they are carrying out their duties. You must answer any question which is put to you in a way which complies with the law. The only time you do not need to answer a question is if the judge has ruled that the question is objectionable. You lawyer will raise objections to any questions they consider not to comply with the rules of the law.

Interfering with witnesses

If you attempt to make contact with any witnesses during the court proceedings against you, you may be held in contempt of court. This is to prevent defendants from influencing the testimony of those who will present evidence to the court. If you would like to find out more about the trial process, you should contact a criminal lawyer today.