CONTEMPT (INDIRECT - PENAL)
No person may be convicted of contempt of court unless the State has proved the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, the willful;
Second, disobedience/(interference with the carrying out);
Third, of a lawful order/process of a court.
Statutory Authority: 21 O.S. 2011, §§ 565, 567.
Notes on Use
A clear and convincing standard for the burden of proof should be used when the purpose of the indirect contempt is coercive or remedial in nature and the defendant is capable of terminating the imprisonment at any time by compliance with, or by a promise to comply with the court order. See Chapter 31 of the Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions – Civil. The beyond a reasonable doubt standard should be used when the purpose of the indirect contempt is penal in nature and the defendant cannot shorten the incarceration by compliance or promised compliance with the court order.
21 O.S. 2011, § 565 categorizes contempts of court as either direct or indirect. Direct contempts involve disruptive conduct in the presence of the court, while indirect contempts involve disobeying or resisting execution of court orders or process outside of the court's presence. Direct contempts may be summarily punished and there is no right to jury trial for a direct contempt. 21 O.S. 2011, § 565.1; Hogg v. State, 2008 OK CR 8, ¶ 6, 181 P.3d 724, 725. "The power of a judge to impose significant punishment for direct contempt immediately and without the full panoply of due process rests upon the absolute necessity of maintaining a structured order in our courts." Id. at ¶ 4, 181 P.3d at 724 (quoting Autry v. State, 2007 OK CR 41, ¶ 10, 172 P.3d 212, 214). 21 O.S. 2011 § 567 provides for a right to jury trial for indirect contempts.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has held that the purpose of indirect contempt sanctions may serve one of two purposes: (1) remedial, or (2) penal. Henry v. Schmidt, 2004 OK 34, ¶ 13, 91 P.3d 651, 654. If the purpose of the punishment for indirect contempt is to coerce the defendant's behavior, it is remedial and the defendant is capable of terminating the imprisonment at any time by compliance with, or by a promise to comply with the court order. However, if the purpose of the sanction is to punish the defendant and the incarceration is for a definite period of time and cannot be shortened by compliance with a court order, it is penal. Id.
When the purpose of the indirect contempt proceeding is to impose remedial or coercive sanctions the burden of proof is by clear and convincing evidence. If the purpose of the indirect contempt proceeding is to impose penal sanctions the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at ¶¶ 20, 21, 91 P.3d at 656.