New York Penal Code § 215.51: Criminal contempt in the first degree

When a judge issues an order you must follow it. If you do not, you will have committed a crime. Furthermore, if you do anything to disrupt a court proceeding, you will have committed a crime. Under New York Penal Code § 215.51, you will have committed the crime of criminal contempt in the first degree if you refuse to cooperate with a grand jury or if you violate an Order of Protection. The most common reason that defendants face a charge of criminal contempt in the first degree is related to violating an Order of Protection that was issued in relation to a domestic violence case. It is a Class E felony.

Example

In People v. Lawing, 975 N.Y.S.2d 778 (2013) an Order of Protection was in place prohibiting defendant Jermel Lawing from going near his former girlfriend or their child. While the Order of Protection was in effect Lawing physically attacked the former girlfriend multiple times, including on one occasion when the child was present. During that incident Lawing threw the former girlfriend down and choked her. Lawing was charged with two counts of criminal contempt in the first degree and one count of criminal contempt in the second degree.

Related Offenses
  1. Strangulation in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 121.13
  2. Stalking in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 120.60
  3. Assault in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 120.10
Defenses

One defense to a charge of criminal contempt in the first degree is based on unintentional violation of an Order of Protection. For example, if you and the other person end up in the same place by accident, you may have a defense to a criminal contempt charge, particularly if you immediately leave once you realize the other person is present.

Sentence

Menacing in the first degree is a Class E felony. The maximum possible sentence is 4 years in prison. Your sentence may also include a probation term of 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.

New York Penal Code § 121.13: Strangulation in the first degree

A person is guilty of criminal contempt in the first degree when:

  1. he contumaciously and unlawfully refuses to be sworn as a witness before a grand jury, or, when after having been sworn as a witness before a grand jury, he refuses to answer any legal and proper interrogatory; or
  2. in violation of a duly served order of protection, or such order of which the defendant has actual knowledge because he or she was present in court when such order was issued, or an order of protection issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in this or another state, territorial or tribal jurisdiction, he or she:
    1. intentionally places or attempts to place a person for whose protection such order was issued in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm or by means of a threat or threats; or
    2. intentionally places or attempts to place a person for whose protection such order was issued in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by repeatedly following such person or engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts over a period of time; or
    3. intentionally places or attempts to place a person for whose protection such order was issued in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death when he or she communicates or causes a communication to be initiated with such person by mechanical or electronic means or otherwise, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication; or
    4. with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm a person for whose protection such order was issued, repeatedly makes telephone calls to such person, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication; or
    5. with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm a person for whose protection such order was issued, strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact or attempts or threatens to do the same; or
    6. by physical menace, intentionally places or attempts to place a person for whose protection such order was issued in reasonable fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury.
  3. he or she commits the crime of criminal contempt in the second degree as defined in subdivision three of § 215.50 of this article by violating that part of a duly served order of protection, or such order of which the defendant has actual knowledge because he or she was present in court when such order was issued, under §s two hundred forty and two hundred fifty-two of the domestic relations law, articles four, five, six and eight of the family court act and § 530.12 of the criminal procedure law, or an order of protection issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in another state, territorial or tribal jurisdiction, which requires the respondent or defendant to stay away from the person or persons on whose behalf the order was issued, and where the defendant has been previously convicted of the crime of aggravated criminal contempt or criminal contempt in the first or second degree for violating an order of protection as described herein within the preceding five years; or
  4. in violation of a duly served order of protection, or such order of which the defendant has actual knowledge because he or she was present in court when such order was issued, or an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in this or another state, territorial or tribal jurisdiction, he or she intentionally or recklessly damages the property of a person for whose protection such order was issued in an amount exceeding two hundred fifty dollars.
New York Criminal Contempt in the First Degree Lawyer

Having an Order of Protection issued against you is not only an inconvenience it can also have serious, negative effects on important aspects of your life. However, if you violate an Order of Protection you will have committed a felony. If you are charged with criminal contempt based on violating an Order of Protection or for any other reason, you need experienced representation. Contact the experienced staff of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC to discuss the details of your case. We have years of experience representing clients who have Orders of Protection filed against them, as well as clients who have been charged with criminal contempt in the first degree, stalking, assault, strangulation, sexual abuse, aggravated harassment and child endangerment. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of criminal contempt in the following locations:

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