Contempt Proceedings Are More Coercive than Punitive
Video Transcribed: When should you exercise your jury trial rights in a contempt proceeding? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am an Oklahoma father’s rights lawyer here with Dads.Law where fathers are not disposable. I want to talk about your jury trial right in contempt proceedings.
Now I’m going to start by saying contempt proceedings are quasi-criminal in nature and they’re meant to be coercive more than punitive. And the difference basically is you can think of coercive proceedings as almost being like the old Indian burns we used to give each other on the elementary school playground. It’s a way for the court to persuade you forcefully to do something you’re supposed to be doing anyway.
Punitive, on the other hand, just means that the idea is to punish bad behavior. That’s what criminal codes are for, is it’s punitive. They’re there to punish you because you’ve violated some statute. But coercive proceedings like contempt and contempt is coercive, are meant to get you to comply.
So because it carries jail time of up to six months in county, you do have a jury trial, right, in contempt proceedings. Now, there are certain circumstances where it might not be bad to stand on that, right? Obviously, if you’re talking about a situation where you might have a valid defense, you may want to take that up with the jury rather than the judge. You may get a more sympathetic ear if you get the right panel.
Another reason to at least temporarily maintain your jury trial rights is if you are looking at child support contempt. Those are moved along very quickly, and sometimes a jury trial demand can buy you enough time to raise the money to pay her off and get out from under that. So it is a way to buy yourself some time, although it can come at a cost. So it’s a balanced decision because if you do that, you’re going to have to, you may have to pay a jury fee. You may be looking at a risk of increased attorney fees for prep time. But if you’re trying to buy time to pay her off from a large balance, it may be worth it to you. It’s better than jail.
So, it’s also a way, if you’re in situations that aren’t child support contempt to up the ante a little bit. And it might convince the other side to come to the negotiating table if you’re talking about a visitational dispute, for example. So it has some value. There’s a variety of reasons why you might consider that.
It is something you would definitely want to talk with an experienced family law attorney in Tulsa about. And one place you can find good legal representation is at Dads.Law where fathers are not disposable.