While watching TV shows, you might have come across scenes featuring a dramatic lawyer being incredibly belligerent in order to prove a point. Suddenly, the judge will warn the lawyer that they will be held in contempt of court if they do not conduct themselves appropriately. In real life, this is certainly an aspect of contempt of court. According to Penal Code 166 PC, contempt of court is defined as inappropriate and disrespectful behavior in court proceedings, including not just in the courtroom but also disobeying court orders and refusing to comply.
There is not one exact action that falls under contempt of court. In fact, it can include behavior like witnesses refusing to answer questions when they do not have a legal privilege to not do so, disobeying or violating a court order, and individuals acting disrespectfully during a court proceeding. In criminal cases, contempt of court can occur directly or indirectly. Direct contempt occurs when the action takes place in front of a judge, at which point the judge can warn and subsequently impose punishment on the party acting in contempt. Indirect actions deal with acts of contempt outside of a court, which usually has to do with violating court orders.
If the judge determines that an individual has acted in contempt of court, they may deliver a misdemeanor sentence to the individual. The misdemeanor crime requires spending time in county jail as well as paying a fine. However, contempt of court can also occur at the same time as other violations and, as such, violating a court order could result in increased penalties.