What is Contempt of Court in Virginia and How Does a Judge Punish It?

According to the Code of Virginia, a judge may punish the following behaviors as contempt of court:

  • Misbehavior in the presence of the court, or so near thereto as to obstruct or interrupt the administration of justice;
  • Violence, or threats of violence, to a judge or officer of the court, or to a juror, witness, or party going to, attending, or returning from court, for or in respect of any at or proceeding had, or to be had, in such court;
  • Vile, contemptuous, or insulting language addressed to or published of a judge for or in respect of any act or proceeding had, or like language used in his or her presence and intended for his or her hearing or in respect of such act or proceeding;
  • Misbehavior of an officer of the court in his or her official character;
  • Disobedience or resistance of an officer of the court, juror, witness, or other person to any lawful process, judgement, decree, or order of the court; and
  • Willful failure to appear before any court or judicial officer as required after having been charged with a felony offense or misdemeanor offense or released on a summons

A judge may punish contempt of court immediately by ordering a person to serve up to ten (10) days in jail and will do so summarily (without a trial) when the judge determines that a person has committed this offense in court.