Does Contempt of Court Go on Your Record?

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Can You Go to Jail for Contempt Of Court?

Contempt of court is an offense that’s considered serious in the eyes of the law, and naturally, you may wonder if this offense will appear on your criminal record.

In this blog post, we delve into this topic, discussing what contempt of court is, the types of contempt, how it’s handled, and most importantly, if it leaves a mark on your personal record.

Understanding Contempt of Court

Before we dive into the heart of the matter, it’s crucial to understand what the term ‘contempt of court’ means.

Simply put, contempt of court refers to any behavior that disrespects or obstructs the integrity and authority of the court.

This might include actions like refusing to follow court orders, disrupting court proceedings, or disrespecting court officials.

It is the court’s way of maintaining its dignity and ensuring that its proceedings go unhindered.

Types of Contempt of Court

Contempt of court is typically categorized into two types: criminal and civil contempt.

Criminal contempt refers to actions that obstruct the administration of justice or demean the court’s authority.

For example, using offensive language in court or physically disrupting the court proceedings can be deemed as criminal contempt.

It is often punished with a fine, jail time, or both, depending on the severity of the contemptuous act.

On the other hand, civil contempt usually occurs when someone fails to comply with a court order in a civil case. For instance, if a person is ordered to pay child support and they fail to do so, they can be held in civil contempt.

The goal of a civil contempt sanction is typically to coerce compliance with a court order, rather than to punish.

The Legal Ramifications of Contempt of Court

Contempt of court has tangible legal consequences. If you’re found guilty of contempt, you might face penalties including fines, imprisonment, community service, or even a combination of these punishments.

These sanctions serve a dual purpose – to uphold the authority of the court and to deter similar behavior in the future.

Contempt of Court and Your Record

Now, the question at the heart of our discussion – does contempt of court go on your record?

The answer to this largely depends on the type of contempt. Civil contempt is usually not considered a crime, so it typically doesn’t appear on your criminal record.

However, it might still be recorded in court files, especially those related to the specific case where the contempt occurred.

This could potentially affect future related proceedings, such as divorce or custody hearings.

Criminal contempt, however, is a different story. Since criminal contempt is treated as a criminal offense, it’s likely to appear on your criminal record if you are convicted. This can have significant long-term effects.

It can impact your ability to find employment, secure housing, or obtain certain licenses, given that these often involve a background check.


Contempt of court is a serious matter and not something to be taken lightly. While civil contempt might not lead to a criminal record, it still carries repercussions, and could affect you in future related legal proceedings.

Criminal contempt, on the other hand, is likely to appear on your criminal record, with potential long-term effects on various aspects of your life.

In either case, if you find yourself involved in a situation where contempt of court could be a factor, it’s advisable to seek professional legal advice.

Understanding your rights, responsibilities, and the potential consequences is key to navigating these tricky legal waters.does-contempt-of-court-go-on-your-record

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