U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Law of Criminal Contempt

NCJ Number
L N Gray
Date Published
135 pages
This monograph explores aspects of criminal contempt under New York's judiciary and penal laws, with focus on contempts arising in the context of grand jury proceedings.
Following a review of the judiciary contempt power, the mandate of commitment for judiciary law contempt is discussed. The responsibilities of the prosecutor, the rights of the witness, and the role of the court in cases where a grand jury witness is ordered to answer are delineated. The mens rea of criminal contempt is analyzed, and the significance of evasiveness, duplicitous, and willfulness in raising civil contempt to criminal contempt is evaluated. In addition to a witness' refusal to answer or answering evasively, failures to appear or to produce documents in response to a grand jury subpoena are examined as grounds for criminal contempt. Circumstances giving rise to a charge of contempt in the immediate view and presence of the court also are evaluated. The relationship between penal and judiciary law contempt is elucidated, and the issue of double jeopardy is raised. It is argued that while the law regarding the rights and responsibilities of the grand jury witness enjoys a common sense coherence, case law is plagued by an imprecision of expression, inaccurate citation of precedent, improvident judicial policymaking, and tautological reasoning. It is suggested that the Judiciary Law sections defining and regulating criminal and civil contempt are long overdue for legislative review and revision. 276 footnotes.