H. Jury

Case law has held that there is no general right to a jury trial in cases of contempt.[48] However, offenses considered ‘serious' entitle the person charged to the 6th Amendment right to a jury.[49] Under Texas law, punishment of six months incarceration or less and a fine of $500 or less is considered a petty offense, insufficient to trigger the right to trial by jury.[50] Punishment exceeding six months' incarceration entitles the contemnor to a jury, and the judge must advise the contemnor of the right to jury.[51] At what point in the contempt proceeding the case is determined to be serious or petty is subject to conflicting authority. One Court of Appeals has held that “if confinement may exceed six months,” then the contempt offense is serious and constitutional safeguards (i.e., the right to a jury) should be given.[52] However, another Court of Appeals has held that the actual punishment imposed determines whether the character of the contempt is serious or petty.[53]