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Legal Statutes: Maryland

UPDATED April 19, 2017

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Chapter 200. Contempt

back to top Rule 15-206. Constructive civil contempt

(a) Where Filed. A proceeding for constructive civil contempt shall be included in the action in which the alleged contempt occurred.

(b) Who May Initiate.

(1) The court may initiate a proceeding for constructive civil contempt by filing an order complying with the requirements of section (c) of this Rule.

(2) Any party to an action in which an alleged contempt occurred and, upon request by the court, the Attorney General, may initiate a proceeding for constructive civil contempt by filing a petition with the court against which the contempt was allegedly committed.

(3) In a support enforcement action where the alleged contempt is based on failure to pay spousal or child support, any agency authorized by law may bring the proceeding.

(c) Content of Order or Petition.

(1) An order filed by the court pursuant to subsection (b)(1) of this Rule and a petition filed pursuant to subsection (b)(2) shall comply with Rule 2-303 and shall expressly state whether or not incarceration is sought.

(2) Unless the court finds that a petition for contempt is frivolous on its face, the court shall enter an order providing for (i) a prehearing conference, or (ii) a hearing, or (iii) both. The scheduled hearing date shall allow a reasonable time for the preparation of a defense and may not be less than 20 days after the prehearing conference. An order issued on a petition or on the court's own initiative shall state:

(A) the time within which any answer by the alleged contemnor shall be filed, which, absent good cause, may not be less than ten days after service of the order;

(B) the time and place at which the alleged contemnor shall appear in person for (i) a prehearing conference, or (ii) a hearing, or (iii) both and, if a hearing is scheduled, whether it is before a master pursuant to Rule 9-208 (a)(1)(G) or before a judge; and

(C) if incarceration to compel compliance with the court's order is sought, a notice to the alleged contemnor in the following form:

TO THE PERSON ALLEGED TO BE IN CONTEMPT OF COURT:

1. It is alleged that you have disobeyed a court order, are in contempt of court, and should go to jail until you obey the court's order.

2. You have the right to have a lawyer. If you already have a lawyer, you should consult the lawyer at once. If you do not now have a lawyer, please note:

(a) A lawyer can be helpful to you by:

(1) explaining the allegations against you;

(2) helping you determine and present any defense to those allegations;

(3) explaining to you the possible outcomes; and

(4) helping you at the hearing.

(b) Even if you do not plan to contest that you are in contempt of court, a lawyer can be helpful.

(c) If you want a lawyer but do not have the money to hire one, the Public Defender may provide a lawyer for you.

• To find out if the Public Defender will provide a lawyer for you, you must contact the Public Defender after any prehearing conference or master's hearing and at least 10 business days before the date of a hearing before a judge.

• If no prehearing conference or master's hearing is scheduled, you should contact the Public Defender as soon as possible, at least 10 business days before the date of the hearing before the judge.

• The court clerk will tell you how to contact the Public Defender.

(d) If you want a lawyer but you cannot get one and the Public Defender will not provide one for you, contact the court clerk as soon as possible.

(e) DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE DATE OF YOUR COURT HEARING TO GET A LAWYER. If you do not have a lawyer before the court hearing date, the judge may find that you have waived your right to a lawyer, and the hearing may be held with you unrepresented by a lawyer.

3. IF YOU DO NOT APPEAR FOR A SCHEDULED PREHEARING CONFERENCE, MASTER'S HEARING, OR COURT HEARING BEFORE THE JUDGE, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO ARREST.

(d) Service of Order. The order, together with a copy of any petition and other document filed in support of the allegation of contempt, shall be served on the alleged contemnor pursuant to Rule 2-121 or 3-121 or, if the alleged contemnor has appeared as a party in the action in which the contempt is charged, in the manner prescribed by the court.

(e) Waiver of Counsel if Incarceration is Sought.

(1) Applicability. This section applies if incarceration is sought and applies only to court hearings before a judge.

(2) Appearance in Court Without Counsel.

(A) If the alleged contemnor appears in court without counsel, the court shall make certain that the alleged contemnor has received a copy of the order containing notice of the right to counsel or was advised of the contents of the notice in accordance with Rule 9-208 (d);

(B) If the alleged contemnor indicates a desire to waive counsel, the court shall determine, after an examination of the alleged contemnor on the record, that the waiver is knowing and voluntary;

(C) If the alleged contemnor indicates a desire to have counsel and the court finds that the alleged contemnor received a copy of the order containing notice of the right to counsel or was advised of the contents of the notice pursuant to Rule 9-208 (d), the court shall permit the alleged contemnor to explain the appearance without counsel. If the court finds that there is a meritorious reason for the alleged contemnor's appearance without counsel, the court shall continue the action to a later time and advise the alleged contemnor that if counsel does not enter an appearance by that time, the action will proceed with the alleged contemnor unrepresented by counsel. If the court finds that there is no meritorious reason for the alleged contemnor's appearance without counsel, the court may determine that the alleged contemnor has waived counsel by failing or refusing to obtain counsel and may proceed with the hearing.

(3) Discharge of Counsel. If an alleged contemnor requests permission to discharge an attorney whose appearance has been entered, the court shall permit the alleged contemnor to explain the reasons for the request. If the court finds that there is a meritorious reason for the alleged contemnor's request, the court shall permit the discharge of counsel, continue the action if necessary, and advise the alleged contemnor that if new counsel does not enter an appearance by the next scheduled hearing date, the action will be heard with the alleged contemnor unrepresented by counsel. If the court finds (A) that the alleged contemnor received a copy of the order containing notice of the right to counsel or was advised of the contents of the notice in accordance with Rule 9-208 (d) and (B) that there is no meritorious reason for the alleged contemnor's request, the court may permit the discharge of counsel but shall first inform the alleged contemnor that the hearing will proceed as scheduled with the alleged contemnor unrepresented by counsel.
Adopted June 5, 1996, eff. Jan. 1, 1997. Amended Dec. 10, 1996, eff. Jan. 1, 1997; amended June 6, 2000, eff. Oct. 1, 2000; amended March 5, 2001, eff. July 1, 2001.