Contempt of Court

In Oakland County Michigan, certain District Court Judges, such as Judge Julie Nicholson and Judge Marc Barron use the contempt power of the court to punish MIP probationers for violating their probation.  Although this practice has been repeatedly found to be unlawful by various judges in the Oakland County Circuit Court, Judges in the 48th District Court and the 52-3 District Court continue to utilize this illegal practice.


An essential element of criminal contempt is that the defendant acted willfully. DeGeorge v Warheit, 276 Mich App 587, 592 (2007), citing People v Matish, 384 Mich 568, 572 (1971)  “‘Willfulness . . . implies a deliberate or intended violation, as distinguished from an accidental, inadvertent or negligent violation.’” Vaughn v City of Flint, 752 F2d 1160, 1168 (CA 6, 1985), quoting TWM Mfg Co Inc v Dura Corp, 722 F2d 1261, 1272 (CA 6, 1983)  In cases of criminal contempt, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual engaged in a willful disregard or disobedience of the authority or orders of the court. DeGeorge at 592

In People v Little, 115 Mich App 662 (1982), a criminal defendant moved to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming that he lied during the plea proceeding. The judge issued an order to show cause why the defendant should not be held in contempt. The defendant’s attorney testified at the show cause hearing that he advised the defendant to plead guilty because “the case was unwinnable.” The Court of Appeals reversed the criminal contempt citation, finding that it was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s false statements at the plea proceeding were culpable. Id. at 665


All first offense MIP Minor in Possession charges in Michigan are non-jailiable offenses.  This means that if you walked into court and said “judge, give me the max,” you could not get jail as part of the sentence.  What happens though is that instead of a jail sentence, most MIP defendants are placed on reporting probation and if they violate, the courts will send them to jail, even though they never could have received jail in the first place. 

As Southeast Michigan’s premiere Minor in Possession and Contempt of Court attorneys, expect to have the entire Amberg & Amberg team fighting for you.  With innovative motions and defenses, the courage to stand up to tough prosecutors, and the belief in your innocence, we will fight with you to the end.  If you or a family member needs our help, call or email us today.