Contempt of Court

‘Contempt of court’ happens when someone risks unfairly influencing a court case. It may stop somebody from getting a fair trial and can affect a trial’s outcome.

Contempt of court includes:

  • disobeying or ignoring a court order 

  • taking photos or shouting out in court 

  • refusing to answer the court’s questions if you are called as a witness 

  • publicly commenting on a court case, for example on social media or online news articles 

If you are found to be in contempt of court, you could go to prison for up to 2 years, get a fine, or both.

Publicly commenting on a court case 

You might be in contempt of court if you speak publicly or post on social media. 

For example, you should not: 

  • say whether you think a person is guilty or innocent 

  • refer to someone’s previous convictions 

  • name someone the judge has allowed to be anonymous, even if you did not know this 

  • name victims, witnesses and offenders under 18 

  • name sex crime victims 

  • share any evidence or facts about a case that the judge has said cannot be made public 

Report contempt of court 

If you have seen something that you think risks the fairness of a future or ongoing case, you can either: 

If you are reporting something you have seen online, include screenshots of the posts if you have them.