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FINDLAW LEGAL DICTIONARY

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Contempt

contempt n

1 : willful disobedience or open disrespect of the orders, authority, or dignity of a court or judge acting in a judicial capacity by disruptive language or conduct or by failure to obey the court's orders
;also
: the offense of contempt called also contempt of court

civil contempt
: contempt that consists of disobedience to a court order in favor of the opposing party NOTE: The sanctions for civil contempt end upon compliance with the order.

constructive contempt
: indirect contempt in this entry

criminal contempt
: contempt consisting of conduct that disrupts or opposes the proceedings or power of the court NOTE: The sanctions for criminal contempt are designed to punish as well as to coerce compliance.

direct contempt
: contempt committed in the presence of the court or in a location close enough to disrupt the court's proceedings

in·di·rect contempt
: contempt (as disobedience of a court order) that occurs outside of the presence of the court
2 : willful disobedience to a lawful order of or willful obstruction of a legislative body in the course of exercising its powers [ of Congress]

in contempt
: in the state of having been found guilty of contempt [refused to testify and were held in contempt "A. M. Dershowitz"]



Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.