If you receive an Order to Show Cause, it is generally because the other party in your case believes that you are not in compliance with an Order that the Court has given. For example, if your ex-wife believes that you are smoking weed or drinking alcohol in front of your child in violation of the Order that states no drugs or alcohol are to be in the presence of the minor child, her attorney may file an Order to Show Cause. An Order to Show Cause requires that you attend Court at the date and time given and present evidence to the Court showing that you have not been smoking weed and drinking while the child is present. Since the punishment for violating an order of the court can include time in jail, a person who has received an Order to Show Cause has a right to an attorney and may receive a court-appointed attorney if certain qualifications are met.
If you do not meet the qualifications for a court-appointed attorney, generally the Court will continue the matter to allow you time to hire an attorney on your behalf. On the next court date, there will be a hearing to determine if you have indeed violated a previous written order of the court. If you are unable to show the Court that you have not violated the Order, then you will most likely be held in Contempt of Court. There are two different types of contempt- civil contempt and criminal contempt. The difference in these is not whether it is a civil or criminal case but rather what type of punishment the judge can impose.
If the Court finds you in civil contempt, you will be ordered to comply with the previous order of the Court and may face imprisonment for up to 12 months if you continue to refuse to comply with the court order. In certain circumstances, it is also possible that you will be required to pay the attorney’s fees for the opposing party who instituted the action for contempt.
If the Court finds you in criminal contempt, you may be imprisoned for up to 30 days, given a fine up to $500, censured, or any combination of the three. If you are found to be in criminal contempt, you cannot be required to pay the attorney’s fees for the opposing party and there are certain constitutional rights that you are guaranteed during the contempt hearing, such as the right against self-incrimination, right to due process, and right to have an attorney.
If you have received an Order to Show Cause, it is extremely important that you have an experienced attorney who knows the differences between civil and criminal contempt so that the best defense can be prepared. At King Law, there are attorneys throughout North and South Carolina who handle these types of cases and can represent you in this unique situation. Call our toll-free number at 888-748-5465 (KING) to request a consultation with one of these experienced attorneys.