It’s always important to remember that no man is above the law -even those who enforce it like Arizona’s famous former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was recently convicted for criminal contempt of court. Here’s what you should know according to a top Fallbrook defense attorney.
First, it’s important to recognize that while you hear the term “contempt of court” in a lot of movie and television shows when one of the characters is acting outrageously inside of a courtroom, not all contempt of court charges stem from behavior inside of a courtroom. Instead, San Marcos criminal attorneys define contempt of court as disrespecting the authority, justice or dignity of a court; and while this can apply when someone is acting out inside of a court, it also can apply to behaviors outside a courtroom. Such is the case with Arpaio, who willfully chose to ignore a judge who ordered him to stop his immigration patrols on the basis that they racially profiled Latinos.
While Sheriff Joe may have argued that he was only trying to enforce the law with his immigration patrols, those types of responsibilities are the jurisdiction of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. More importantly, he was specifically ordered to stop by a judge and continued to perform the patrols. If Sheriff Joe really wanted to follow the law of the U.S. and felt the judge made an improper ruling, he could have appealed the decision, but by choosing to ignore the ruling for almost a year and a half, he was guilty of contempt of court. While sentencing hasn’t yet occurred, Arpaio could face six months in jail -most Escondido defense attorneys agree that he will likely get probation as it is rare for someone his age to be incarcerated for a white collar crime like this one.
It’s important to remember that you might disagree with the opinion of a court, but you can’t just take the law into your own hands without consequences. If you have any questions about this case or contempt of court charges, Rancho Bernardo criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Update: Although Sheriff Arpaio was recently pardoned by the president, the judge said she still will hold hearings on the appropriateness of the pardon.
Creative Commons Image by Gage Skidmore