Contempt of Court
Assume that you obtained a court order requiring someone to do or not do something. If that person fails to comply with the court order, that person may be held in contempt of court. This section will answer the following questions about this process:
- What is contempt of court?
- What is the penalty for contempt?
- What is the process for dealing with contempt?
- Aside from contempt, are there other circumstances where a civil defendant can be arrested?
The following constitutes contempt:
- Disorderly, contemptuous or insolent behavior toward the judge or masters;
- Breaching the peace, boisterous conduct or violent disturbance in or near court which would tend to interrupt court business;
- Disobeying a lawful writ, order, rule or process issued by the court;
- Disobeying a subpoena or refusing to be sworn or answer as a witness;
- Taking property or a person in custody of an officer as a result of a court order;
- Disobeying a court order by speaking to or in the presence of a juror concerning an action in which the juror has been impaneled with the intent to influence his verdict.
- Abusing the court process or pretending to act under the authority of a court order;
- Coming back onto property after being ejected. See NRS 22.010 and NRS 22.020
A fine may be imposed in an amount that is not to exceed $500 and/or the person may be imprisoned for up to 25 days. The person may also be subject to the costs associated with enforcing a writ or order, if applicable. NRS 22.100. The court can also imprison the person until they perform (ie comply with a court order). NRS 22.110
If the judge sees the act, he or she can punish the person then and there. If the judge does not see the act, a party to the case may take the following steps:
- File a Motion for an Order to Show Cause (link form) and submit an Order to Show Cause (link form);
- If the court signs the Order, a court hearing will be scheduled and the Order must be personally served on the opposing party;
- If the party does not appear at the Order to Show Cause hearing or fails to provide sufficient justification for their actions/inaction, the court may sign a Bench Warrant. (link form) You should bring a prepared bench warrant to court with you. See NRS 22.040
The following are just a few instances where the defendant may be arrested in a civil case:
- When there is a lawsuit based on a contract or libel/slander and the defendant is about to leave the state with the intent to defraud his creditors. NRS 31.480
- When there is a lawsuit to recover personal property that is being wrongfully detained when the property has been concealed, removed, or disposed of so that it cannot be found.
- When the defendant has removed or disposed of his property, or is about to do so, with intent to defraud his creditors. NRS 31.480. In all such cases, the plaintiff must submit an affidavit that shows the above circumstances and must post a bond which shall be at least $500.