Family law Tampa

I cursed in front of the judge, now what?

Put your emotions aside to avoid unnecessary consequences.

Being a family law judge is an honorable profession.  Judges demand respect and also expect you to maintain professional decorum and use language that is not inflammatory or inappropriate.  Never interrupt a family law judge.  Never talk back to a family law judge.  Do not make faces while your ex-spouse is testifying on the stand.  Do not shake your head no.  Do not make inflammatory gestures.  Most importantly, never curse or use profane language in front of a family law judge.

Look, I get it.  Family law court can be very emotional.  A judge, who you barely know, is making very important decisions about your family, assets and finances.  It can be hard to keep it together.  But, please put emotions aside and refrain from curse words and inappropriate language.

But, despite all warnings, people do slip up.  What happens if you do slip up and accidentally curse in front of the judge?  Well, a recent Third District Court of Appeals case dealt with this issue.  In Twine v. State of Florida, the defendant stated “this is a bunch of bullshit” to the judge.  The defendant then immediately apologized.  Even though he apologized, the judge found him to be in direct criminal contempt of court and sentenced him to 180 days in the county jail for simply cursing.  This is the maximum sentence a person can be sentenced to jail for being held in direct contempt of court without a jury trial.

The defendant appealed this jail sentence.  The appeals court stated that a trial court may find a party to be in direct criminal contempt of court for using profanity and can order that party to be sentenced to jail.  The appellate court did opine that the sentence of 180 days appeared to be overly excessive, because the defendant immediately regretted his outburst and apologized.  However, the appellate court found that it had no authority to reduce or reverse a lawfully imposed sentence and therefore affirmed the trial court’s jail sentence.

Going through a family law court proceeding is incredibly stressful and emotional.  There is a great temptation to use profanity and curse in front of the judge when things do not go your way.  But, think twice before doing so because the consequences could be sanctions or even worse, 180 days in county jail.  Which, the appellate courts have no jurisdiction to reverse.

If you have any questions regarding family law or require legal assistance in other areas of Family Law you may always contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected].