Can i be charged with contempt of court, sentenced for it and then a few weeks later charged with disorderly conduct?

DETAILS

i was charged with contempt of court and sentenced to 24 hrs in jail for swearing in the court room 2 weeks ago. Now today i received a citation and letter from the sheriff dept. stating that i am being charged with a disorderly conduct for the same incident of the the contempt and need to appear in court for it and i am wondering if that’s legal? i am confused because that sounds like double jeopardy to me.

ANSWER

Whenever you are formally charged with a crime, in this case disorderly conduct, you should seek the assistance of an attorney. Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days jail. Without knowing more about the facts and circumstances, it is impossible to say “yes, they can do that” or “no they can not”.

Typically, contempt constitutes a civil action whereas disorderly conduct is a criminal charge. That is why people can be tried both in a civil court and a criminal court for the same actions (example: OJ Simpson – had both a civil case and criminal case arising out of the same alleged acts).

You really need a lawyer to examine the discovery along with the civil contempt paperwork to determine if it is double jeopardy or a permissible prosecution for disorderly conduct.