California Penal Code 166 PC

PC 166 – Violating A Court Order

PC 166 - Violating A Court Order

Violating A Court Order – Table of Contents

Definition of “Violating a Court Order”

Violating a Court Order Penal Code 166 PC is intentionally engaging in an act that leads to disobedience of a judge’s order, or just flat out disobeying a judge’s order.

For instance, if you are ordered to appear in court on a specific date, but instead of being ready for court on Monday you decided to go out of town on that weekend and don’t come back until Monday evening and miss your court date. You are likely not going to get any sympathy from the judge for missing court. However, if you are on your way to court and your car breaks down, then you are likely to be excused due to “circumstances beyond your control”.

Penalties for Violating Court Orders

General Intent Violations

The majority of violating A court order Penal Code 166 PC violations are misdemeanors that can carry a sentence of:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Probation; and/or
  • $1000 in court fines

Domestic Violence Violations

However, certain violations will cause increased penalties. In Domestic Violence cases, if the defendant is convicted of violating a Protective Order (aka Restraining Order, or Stay-Away Order), the punishment can be:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • $1000 in court fines

If a victim is injured as a result of the violation, there is a minimum sentence of 2 days in jail, in addition to extra charges filed regarding the injury.

Any subsequent conviction for Violating a Protective Order for a Domestic Violence offense (including Elder Abuse) is considered a “wobbler”, which means that a prosecutor can charge it as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case and your criminal history.

If violating A court order Penal Code 166 PC charged as a felony, the defendant may face:

  • Up to 3 years in jail
  • $10,000 in court fines
  • Up to $1,000 to a battered women’s shelter
  • Any medical/counselling costs incurred as restitution

Firearm Violations

If the defendant is convicted of possessing a firearm in violation of a court order, this offense is also considered a “wobbler” and is punishable by:

  • Up to 3 years in jail
  • $10,000 in court fines

Stalking Violations

In addition to violating A court order PC 166, you may face charges regarding Penal Code 646.9 PC California’s stalking law. If you are accused of contempt of court, and the underlying offending conduct also qualifies as stalking, prosecutors can charge you with both violations. But if you are convicted or acquitted of stalking, you cannot subsequently be punished for a contempt charge that stems from the same act.

Child Support Violations

If the defendant is convicted of violation of a court order regarding child or family support payments (Penal Code 166.5 PC), and you haven’t yet entered a plea or gone to trial, or you’ve already been convicted but not yet sentenced, the court may be willing to suspend your proceedings. A good California criminal defense attorney will be able to help in order to avoid the penalties that may otherwise be imposed with this type of “willful disobedience”.

Prosecuting Penal Code 166

Because violating a court order is a “general intent crime”, the prosecutor doesn’t need to prove that you intended to directly violate a court order, only that you intended to engage in the action that constituted the violation.

In order to prove that a defendant Violated a Court Order under violating a court order Penal Code 166 PC, a prosecutor must establish the following elements, and prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • A court issued a lawful written order
  • The defendant knew about the court order
  • The defendant knew what the court order asked of them
  • The defendant had the ability to follow the court order, AND
  • The defendant willfully violated the court order

Defending for violating a court order Penal Code 166

Lack of knowledge

In some instances, the defendant may not be aware of the exact nature of the court order. They may have misperceived what they were supposed to do or not do.

Lack of intent

If someone encounters someone they are prohibited from contacting by happenstance, that person would not be criminally liable. Unfortunately for the defendant, courts and prosecutors are very suspicious about “accidental” run-ins.

False Allegations

Sometimes, especially in Protective Order violations, the protected party may want to lash out against the defendant, essentially exaggerating or lying about the events.

These are very general defense strategies for violating a court order PC 166, there are several more and each case requires knowledge of the details. It’s best to consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer regarding your case.

We Want to Help

If you or a loved one is facing PC 166 charges, Violation of a Court Order, it’s imperative to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney immediately. Seppi Esfandi is a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney and has experience defending California in a variety of crimes, including “Violating a Court Order”.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

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We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

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