Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been formally charged with criminal contempt-of-court, accused of intentionally violating a federal judge's order.
Arpaio's attorney has said the sheriff will plead not guilty. Unlike other criminal defendants, Arpaio will not be arrested or be required to personally enter a plea in court.
The charges carry a sentence of up to six months in jail. But legal experts have said it's unlikely the 84-year-old lawman would serve any time if convicted.
The charge comes with Election Day just two weeks away. Arpaio is seeking a seventh term in office against Democrat Paul Penzone.
Arpaio's campaign responded Tuesday night. The emailed statement from Chad Willems, Arpaio Campaign Manager, said "The Obama Justice Department continues its efforts to influence the election for Sheriff of Maricopa County. The Department's actions in the last 30 days before the election are further attempts to sabotage Sheriff Arpaio in his bid for a seventh unprecedented term as Maricopa County Sheriff. It is clear from the timing that the Department of Justice is merely a political tool of a corrupt Administration. Justice plays no part in this Department's actions and clear political motivations."
The hearing is set for Dec. 6.