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CRM 500-999

754. Criminal Versus Civil Contempt

Because different substantive and procedural rules apply to civil and criminal contempts, distinctions between the two forms of contempt are important. "Criminal contempt is a crime in the ordinary sense," Bloom v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 194, 201 (1968), and "criminal penalties may not be imposed on someone who has not been afforded the protections that the Constitution requires of such criminal proceedings." Hicks v. Feiock, 485 U.S. 624, 632 (1988). These constitutional protections include the right (1) not to be subject to double jeopardy, see United States v. Dixon, 509 U.S. 688, 695 (1993); In re Bradley, 318 U.S. 50 (1943); (2) to receive notice of the charges, (3) to receive assistance of counsel; (4) to receive summary process; (5) to present a defense, Cooke v. United States, 267 U.S. 515, 537 (1925); (6) not to self-incriminate oneself, and (7) to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 444 (1911). For serious criminal contempts involving imprisonment of more than six months, these protections include the right to a jury trial. Bloom, 391 U.S. at 199.

By contrast, civil contempt sanctions--which are designed to compel future compliance with a court order--are coercive and avoidable through obedience, and "thus may be imposed in an ordinary civil proceeding upon notice and an opportunity to be heard. Neither a jury trial nor proof beyond a reasonable doubt is required." International Union, UMWA v. Bagwell, 512 U.S. 821, 114 S.Ct. 2552, 2557 (1994).

The role of the United States Attorney in prosecuting criminal contempt cases is discussed in this Manual at 768.

[cited in JM 9-39.000]