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Texas Criminal Practice Guide
Copyright 2017, Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., a member of the LexisNexis Group.

6-135 Texas Criminal Practice Guide 135.syn


Criminal Contempt


Editorial Consultant:;Frank Maloney;Update Author:;John M. Schmolesky

Chapter Summary


This chapter covers the nature of contempt, which describes conduct that obstructs or tends to obstruct the proper administration of justice. It also discusses the regulatory, common law, and statutory authority of courts to exercise contempt powers; the jurisdiction of a court to issue a contempt order; and the types of contempt, which include civil, criminal, direct, and constructive contempt.

In addition, this chapter discusses the persons who are subject to contempt, which include both attorneys and nonattorneys; contempt proceeding requirements; and constitutional protections afforded a person subject to contempt, including the right to be represented by counsel, the right to a jury trial, the right to a public trial before an unbiased judge, the right to be free from double jeopardy, the right to be free from self-incrimination, and the right to be present and confront witnesses. It also discusses the requirement for the court to issue a written order of contempt and a written commitment before a person may be restrained for contempt.

This chapter concludes with a discussion of habeas corpus, which is the proper remedy for testing a contempt order. It covers the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court of Appeals to grant habeas corpus relief, the habeas corpus procedure, and the reviewing court's scope of review of a contempt order.

This chapter contains helpful checklists for assessing a person's actions, determinations counsel should make when his or her client is subject to direct contempt, and for the preparation of a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging a contempt finding; motion and petition forms; and convenient federal and Texas constitutional, statutory, rule, case law, annotational, law review, and periodical references, among other resources.

Texas Criminal Practice Guide is a complete resource on Texas criminal law. It provides expert legal analysis, practice tips, sample forms, research guides, and updates on legislative changes. It is arranged by section to correspond with the progression of the Texas criminal justice system, making its detailed information easy to access.


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For discussion of related issues, please refer to Chapter 120, classification and punishment of offenses; Chapter 121, criminal responsibility; Chapter 122, general defenses; and Chapter 123, justifications. For discussion of habeas corpus relief, please see Chapter 91, postconviction habeas corpus, and Chapter 93, federal habeas corpus.


For the most complete discussion and expert analysis of drunk driving law in Texas to date, see Texas Drunk Driving Law (Matthew Bender).

For an organized and comprehensive guide to criminal sentencing in the Texas courts which includes analysis of the collateral consequences of criminal convictions, victims' rights at the sentencing phase, sentencing options for juveniles, community supervision, and the various types of institutional facilities, among other sentencing issues, see Texas Sentencing (Matthew Bender).

For quick reference, expert guidance, and the latest developments in criminal evidence law regarding scientific evidence, polygraph evidence, evidence obtained from automobile stops and other searches and seizures, and amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence, among other evidentiary issues, see Courtroom Criminal Evidence (Matthew Bender).

For a review of all of the major evidentiary doctrines applicable to scientific evidence, see The Methods of Attacking Scientific Evidence (Matthew Bender).

For West's flagship treatise on federal civil, criminal, appellate, and admiralty procedure whose authors are the judges, lawyers, and professors who write and amend the federal rules, see Moore's Federal Practice--Criminal (Matthew Bender).
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