18-year-old Penelope Soto was sentenced to 30 days in jail for contempt of court after flipping Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat the bird on Monday during her first appearance hearing. Oddly enough Soto was arrested and before Judge Rodriguez-Chomat for a first appearance on a possession of a controlled substance charge where he was trying to establish a lower and reasonable bond for her. When the good Judge inquired as to the value of the jewelry Soto possessed it is reported that Soto stroked her hair and laughed at Judge Rodriguez-Chomat in a snarky fashion. To this Judge Rodriguez-Chomat remarked, “it’s not a joke, you know, we’re not in a club now. We are not in a club, be serious about it.” Soto replied, “I’m serious about it, you just made me laugh. You just made me laugh, I apologize. It’s worth a lot of money.” When Judge Rodriguez-Chomat inquired further as to the actual value of the jewelry Soto replied, “like Rick Ross. It’s worth money.” Not understanding Soto’s reference, Judge Rodriguez-Chomat asked if Soto was on drugs and things seemed to turn downhill from there. Judge Rodriguez-Chomat set a $5,000 bond and said “bye, bye” to which Soto sniped “adios.” Annoyed, Judge Rodriguez-Chomat summoned her back to the podium and increased her bond to $10,000 and again sent her on her way. But the altercation would not be complete without Soto flipping Judge Rodriguez-Chomat the bird and blurting “f*ck you” on her way out the door. For this Judge Rodriguez-Chomat yet again brought her back and issued her a 30 day criminal contempt of court sentence.
First and foremost the first thing I and the Tampa criminal lawyers in my firm impress upon our clients is to be mannerly in front of the particular presiding Judge on their case. Alienate the Judge and your difficulties are compounded ten fold. In other words, don’t piss off the person that could eventually sentence you or approve of a plea deal negotiated between your Tampa criminal attorney and the State. Penelope Soto screwed up. Not only is a $5,000 bond reasonable for a third degree felony, Soto will now instantly begin serving her contempt sentence. Unlike civil contempt where a Court’s ruling is made and ignored, direct criminal contempt is governed by Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.830 and offers very little due process. Criminal contempt allows for summary punishment when the contempt is performed in the presence of the Court. The Judge will then allow an opportunity for the Defendant to show cause as to why they shouldn’t be sentenced and depending on the cause, will impose sentence immediately and without a trial.
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