How long can a person be incarcerated for civil contempt?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Punishment for Civil Contempt normally is incarceration until the offending person agrees to perform the act which he has previously refused to do. If one were under Court Order to pay child support; he can be incarcerated until such time as he does so. Judges are given wide latitude in determining the appropriate punishment, but it must be commensurate with the level of the offense. When I practiced law, I was once fined $25.00 for being late to Court; and on another occasion, a Judge sentenced a Physician to thirty minutes jail time because he was thirty minutes late to Court. The Judge's position was without witnesses and attorney's present, the Court cannot perform its work. Had he fined me a thousand dollars, or sentenced me to thirty days in jail, that easily is not commensurate with the offense.  Some states have statutes that prescribe maximum sentences; but they are rarely more than $100.00 or ten days in Jail, again dependent upon the severity of the offense.

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