Contempt, generally, is the power of the court to enforce its orders and/or punish an individual for actions that affront the dignity of the court. There are three (3) types of contempt: civil contempt, direct criminal contempt, and indirect criminal contempt.
In civil contempt, the court will enforce its own order requiring an individual to pay alimony, pay child support or to comply with orders of visitation or parental responsibility. For civil contempt, it is said that the person who violates the court order has the keys to jail. By simple compliance with the court order in question, the Sheriff will release the individual and the matter will have been resolved. If you are charged with contempt, your liberty is at stake and it is imperative that you address this issue immediately. In family law cases, if your spouse or former spouse is not complying with a court order, you have the right to ask the court to find him or her in contempt and order incarceration and fines.
Direct criminal contempt, generally, is when an individual commits a specific, outrageous act in the presence of the court which affronts the dignity of the court. The court may summarily punish that person.
Indirect criminal contempt allows the court to punish an individual after hearing for actions of an individual outside the presence of the court. The court may place a person in jail for up to 179 days without the use of a jury trial.
If you are charged with any form of contempt you should immediately seek legal counsel. Your attorney will evaluate your situation and determine how best to comply with the order of the court or otherwise address and resolve the contempt charge.