LEGAL CORNER: How to deal with noisy neighbors - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

LEGAL CORNER: How to deal with noisy neighbors

(Source: KPLC) (Source: KPLC)
(KPLC) -

Submit your questions to news@kplctv.com. Civil matters only, please.

QUESTION: "I live in an apartment building. The tenants above me are so noisy and annoying that I’ve called the cops on them before. Once the police came, they kept telling me that they couldn't find where the noise was coming from, even though I clearly explained that it was from the apartment a floor above me. I’ve talked to the owner of the apartments, but he will not do anything. What can I do?"

ANSWER: Generally, the Landlord is obligated to provide the tenant with “peace full possession.” While this usually is a reference to real estate possession rights, it can also mean a reasonable expectation of not being disturbed by neighbors over which the Landlord has control. The first thing to do is to read the lease. Most leases have provisions about noise disturbances and procedures to follow about making complaints with Landlords. If the lease is silent, and if the problem continues, and if the Landlord continues to do nothing about it, then the tenants ultimate remedy is to claim that the Landlord has violated the lease and sue the landlord either to enforce the lease or to dissolve the lease and move out. The Law Center strongly suggests that the tenant seek a face to face meeting with the Landlord before taking any drastic measures.

QUESTION: "Why does the city over look open container laws during special events, Mardi Gras, Contraband Days, etc?"

ANSWER: The simple answer is: because it can.

First, there is no state-wide law the prohibits drinking in public. All state laws dealing with opener containers pertain to vehicles. However, city and parish codes may, and frequently do, prohibit drinking in public.

The Pertinent Sections of the Lake Charles City Code appear below:

Sec. 3-7. - Open alcoholic beverage containers.

(a)

It shall be unlawful for any person to possess any open container as defined in this section, in or upon any public street, sidewalk, park, playground or other unenclosed public place within the city limits of the City of Lake Charles, Louisiana. (b)

For purposes of this section, "open container" is defined as any drinking vessel made of glass, metal, plastic, styrofoam, or paper, which contains an alcoholic beverage, and upon which the seal has been broken.(c)

Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, this section shall not apply on dates, times, and places specifically authorized by resolution of the governing authority of the City of Lake Charles after due consideration at a regular or special meeting called for the consideration of declaring such exemption.

The Law Center is not aware of any formal action taken by the City Council to suspend the above law for certain days, but they could if they wanted to. However, it is public knowledge that there are multiple events in Lake Charles where alcohol is readily sold and consumed (downtown at sundown, Beer Fest, and multiple events at the Civic Center.

As a practical matter, law enforcement and prosecutors have discretion to pick and choose which offenses to prosecute or not prosecute. Most offense like these are not practical to prosecute and are usually supplemental or additional charges to more serious charge.

QUESTION: "What are the consequences of being in contempt of court?"

ANSWER: There are two types of contempt, criminal and civil. Criminal Contempt is generally disruptive behavior and disrespect during actual court proceedings. The more common type of contempt is civil contempt which is disobeying a court’s civil orders. Common examples are violations of restraining orders, failure to pay child support, or failure to pay restitution etc. Usually, courts impose penalties like fines, attorney fees or jail time as a consequence of refusing to follow a court’s order. Louisiana Revised Statute E13 : 4611 expressly spells out contempt consequences as follows:

Except as otherwise provided for by law:

(1) The supreme court, the courts of appeal, the district courts, family courts, juvenile courts and the city courts may punish a person adjudged guilty of a contempt of court therein, as follows:

(a) For a direct contempt of court committed by an attorney at law, by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than twenty-four hours, or both; and, for any subsequent contempt of the same court by the same offender, by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than ten days, or both;

(b) For disobeying or resisting a lawful restraining order, or preliminary or permanent injunction, by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

(c) For a deliberate refusal to perform an act which is yet within the power of the offender to perform, by imprisonment until he performs the act; and

(d)(i) For any other contempt of court, including disobeying an order for the payment of child support or spousal support or an order for the right of custody or visitation, by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisonment for not more than three months, or both.

(ii) In addition to or in lieu of the penalties provided by this Paragraph, the court may order that the person perform litter abatement work or community service in a court-approved program for each day he was to be imprisoned, provided that the total days of jail, litter abatement work, and community service do not exceed the maximum sentence provided by this Paragraph.

NOTE: Item (1)(d)(iii) as enacted by Acts 2017, No. 264, §3, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

(iii) It is a defense as provided by R.S. 9:311.1 to a charge of contempt of court for failure to comply with a court order of child support if an obligor can prove that he was incarcerated during the period of noncompliance. This defense applies only to the time period of actual incarceration.

(e) In addition to or in lieu of the above penalties, when a parent has violated a visitation order, the court may order any or all of the following:

(i) Require one or both parents to allow additional visitation days to replace those denied the noncustodial parent.

(ii) Require one or both parents to attend a parent education course.

(iii) Require one or both parents to attend counseling or mediation.

(iv) Require the parent violating the order to pay all court costs and reasonable attorney fees of the other party.

(f) A pattern of willful and intentional violation of this Section, without good cause, may constitute a material change in circumstances warranting a modification of an existing custody or visitation order.

(g) The court may award attorney fees to the prevailing party in a contempt of court proceeding provided for in this Section.

(2) Justices of the peace may punish a person adjudged guilty of a direct contempt of court by a fine of not more than fifty dollars, or imprisonment in the parish jail for not more than twenty-four hours, or both.

(3) The court or justice of the peace, when applicable, may suspend the imposition or the execution of the whole or any part of the sentence imposed and place the defendant on unsupervised probation or probation supervised by a probation office, agency, or officer designated by the court or justice of the peace, other than the division of probation and parole of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. When the court or justice of the peace places a defendant on probation, the court or the justice of the peace may impose any specific conditions reasonably related to the defendant's rehabilitation, including but not limited to the conditions of probation as set forth in Code of Criminal Procedure Article 895. A term of probation shall not exceed the length of time a defendant may be imprisoned for the contempt, except in the case of contempt for disobeying an order for the payment of child support or spousal support or an order for the right of custody or visitation, when the term of probation may extend for a period of up to two years.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.

 

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