Being in Contempt of Court means an act that tends to interfere with or undermine the authority, performance or dignity of the courts or those who participate in their proceedings.
The oxford dictionary meaning of Contempt is ‘the feeling that somebody/something is without value and deserves no respect at all’.
Contempt can occur by Contempt in the face of the Court, Contempt by publication, Scandalising the Court or Disobedience of court orders.
The Court’s powers concerning Contempt are found in s 24 Local Court Act 2007. Those powers are the same as the District Court concerning Contempt of Court committed in the face or hearing of the Court: s 24(1). In addition, s53(3)(a) Supreme Court Act 1970 gives all divisions of the Supreme Court the power for punishment of Contempt of Court.
Examples of Contempt include:
The charge of contempt of Court is a last resort. Other options for the Court include:
In Ex p Bellanto; Re Prior  NSWR 1556 at 1566, it was stated the decision to proceed to a charge for Contempt is a power to be used sparingly and only in serious cases. Its usefulness depends upon the wisdom and restraint with which it is exercised,
The penalty is a fine of 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 28 days. For disrespectful behaviour, the penalty is a fine of 10 penalty units or imprisonment of 14 days.
If you are charged with being in contempt of Court, you should seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer.
The defences available for this charge are;