Corporal Injury to a Spouse
Under California Penal Code Section 273.5, corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant is an act of domestic violence. This offense is defined as willfully inflicting a physical injury which results in a traumatic condition to a current or former spouse, significant other, or partner. It is often referred to as domestic abuse, domestic violence, or corporal injury to a spouse.
A traumatic condition is defined as a wound or other bodily injury, whether visible or internal, caused by the direct use of physical force. These include:
- Broken nose
- Internal bleeding
However, these injuries may be serious or minor. For example, a small cut or a sprained ankle may be enough for a conviction.
In California criminal courts, the charge of corporal injury to a spouse can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony, otherwise known as a “wobbler” offense. Additionally, California Penal Code Section 243(e) distinguishes the less severe charge of domestic battery, while Penal Code 29825 addresses the illegal possession of a firearm in defiance of a court order.
And many people don’t realize that it’s still possible to be charged with a domestic violence-related crime even in a situation where no physical contact occurred during the incident. For example, California Penal Code 422 makes it a crime to use criminal threats against someone.
What are some common problems with corporal injury charges? As with many incidents involving domestic disputes, people often use corporal injury charges to make false accusations. These false allegations can be made out of jealously, revenge, anger, or might be seen as an advantage in a child custody dispute. Furthermore, even if a victim chooses to drop charges, the prosecutor will nevertheless often proceed with formal charges. In most cases, prosecutors will assume that the victim only wants to drop charges because they are being coerced or manipulated by the defendant.
For a California prosecutor to obtain a corporal injury conviction, they must be able to prove several aspects of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
- You willfully and illegally caused physical harm to another person
- The injury led to a traumatic condition
- The person injured is or was an intimate partner of yours
- Your actions were not in self-defense or in defense of another person
Prosecutors typically consider the level of harm or force used, the defendant’s criminal history, and other circumstances when deciding between felony or misdemeanor charges.
If convicted, a defendant can be punished with imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to $6,000, or by both a and imprisonment. However, if the victim suffered great bodily harm, prosecutors might also add an enhancement, which would lead to a strike under California’s Three Strike Laws, and an additional three to five years in prison.
If charged with corporal injury to a spouse, whether it was accidental, self-defense, or a false accusation, hiring a criminal defense attorney is your legal lifeline. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can use a variety of legal defenses to have your charges dismissed or reduced to lesser offenses. Every case of corporal injury to a spouse is unique and your defense strategy will be based on the specific circumstances.
What You Want to Avoid
Prosecutors may offer you a “suspended sentence” which might sound like a good offer when under the stress of your case. Early intervention into your case is critical; a skilled courtroom defense lawyer may be able to prevent formal charges from being filed against you.
Furthermore, corporal injury to a spouse is known as a crime of moral turpitude, meaning a conviction could impact your ability to obtain certain professional licenses.
In Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney David A. Stein will defend your legal rights and freedom. Leveraging his exceptional investigative and courtroom negotiation skills, he fights for the best possible outcome and sentencing of every case.
See related blog: domestic violence defense attorney