Q If a defendant fails to comply with the terms and conditions of an order of probation, such as failing to refrain from the use of drugs or attending a class and there is no period of suspended incarceration as part of the initial order, should the defendant be charged with civil or criminal contempt?

A The court must determine whether the violation of the order of probation is civil or criminal contempt. As the Mississippi Supreme Court noted in In Re Nichols, 749 So.2d 68 (Miss. 1999), “a civil contempt penalty is coercive while a criminal contempt penalty is punishment.” If the court determines the act constitutes criminal contempt, Section 21-23-7(11) provides the municipal court the authority to impose punishment of a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000) or six (6) months imprisonment. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Nowak, November 4, 2016)