Corporal Injury On A Spouse

Corporal Injury on a spouse or cohabitant is a serious offense in California.  After a conviction of this crime, the consequences may be detrimental. The California PC 273.5 makes it a crime to intentionally or willfully inflict corporal injury on your spouse or your cohabitant. According to the law, corporal injury refers to any form or physical injury. Both minor and major injuries qualify as corporal injury.  Corporal injury on your spouse or cohabitant is a felony offense. The penalties may include imprisonment in a California state prison and payment of hefty fines. If you or a loved one has violated PC 273.5 in California, Darwish Law can help in fighting the charges. 

Violating PC 273.5

You may violate the California PC 273.5 if you intentionally inflict physical injury on your former or current intimate partner. You will be guilty if the physical injury inflicted results in a traumatic condition.

You act willfully if you do something on purpose or if you act intentionally. Acting willfully does not imply that you intended to break the law. Acting willfully does not also mean that you intended to harm the victim. It means that you were aware of your actions and their impact on the victim. 

Any wound or physical injury that results from your direct application of physical force on another person qualifies as a traumatic condition.  The traumatic condition need not be serious. Even if the victim suffers a minor wound or injury, it will still qualify as a traumatic condition. 

Some of the injuries that may arise from your intentional application of force on your spouse or cohabitant include concussions, sprains, internal bleeding, broken bones, and bruises. All forms of injuries arising from strangulation or suffocation also qualify as traumatic conditions.

For you to face charges under PC 273.5, the prosecutor must prove that your actions made the victim suffer the said traumatic condition.  If the injury is a direct and probable cause of your actions, you may be guilty of the charge. It should be evident that if you had not inflicted the injuries on the victim, the traumatic condition would not have occurred. 

Spouse or Cohabitant

You cannot face charges under the California PC 273.5 unless you inflict injuries on an intimate partner. The law outlines a spouse or cohabitant to be an intimate partner. However, other parties may qualify as intimate partners, including a registered domestic partner. Under the law, a cohabitant refers to a live-in girlfriend or boyfriend. Your fiancé(e) or the parent of your child also qualifies as an intimate partner. Any person with whom you have shared a serious dating relationship qualifies as an intimate partner, according to the law. 

For California law, a person can have more than one intimate partner at a time. A defendant may cohabit with several intimate partners. In defining an intimate partner, the court considers the type of relationship between the defendant and the partner.

Some of the characteristics of an intimate relationship include indulging in sexual activities while sharing the same residence. Intimate partners also share income and expenses. Jointly using or owning property is also a characteristic of an intimate relationship. The court considers a relationship to be intimate if the parties involved consider themselves to be in a serious relationship. The length and continuity of the relationship are also important factors in defining an intimate relationship. 

Consequences for Corporal Injury on a Spouse

When you inflict corporal injury on your intimate partner, the prosecutor has the discretion to charge the offense as a felony or misdemeanor. The prosecutor considers various factors while deciding whether to charge the offense as a felony or misdemeanor. For instance, the prosecutor may consider the facts or circumstances of your case. The prosecutor also considers your criminal record and the offenses you have committed in the past. 

If you inflict serious injuries on your spouse or cohabitant, you are likely to face felony charges. If your criminal record indicates that you have a history of aggressive acts or domestic violence offense, you are likely to face felony charges. 

If you get a misdemeanor conviction of corporal injury on an intimate partner, the penalties include serving jail time for up to one year. You may also have to pay hefty fines not exceeding $6,000. Instead of sending you to jail, the judge may recommend misdemeanor probation, also known as summary probation. 

If you get a felony conviction of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, the penalties include imprisonment in state prison. The imprisonment period may be two years, three years, or four years. The court may also impose a fine not exceeding $6,000.  In some cases, the judge may recommend a felony or formal probation.

Enhanced Penalties

If you have a previous conviction for assault or domestic violence and you violate PC 273.5, the offense will still be a wobbler. The prosecutor will still have the discretion of charging the offense as a felony or misdemeanor.  However, if you get a felony conviction under PC 273.5 and you have a prior offense within the past seven years, you will face enhanced penalties.

Some of the priorable offense in the past seven years that may cause enhanced penalties include: violation of PC 273.5 for inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner, assault or battery causing serious bodily injury, assault or battery with caustic chemicals, or assault with a stun gun. You will face enhanced charges if you have a history of assault with a deadly weapon, battery on a spouse, or sexual battery in the past seven years. 

If you inflict corporal injury on a spouse and you have a history of battery on a spouse as outlined under PC 243(e), your felony penalties increase. You will face imprisonment in state prison for two, three, or four years. You may also pay a hefty fine not to exceed $10,000. 

If you commit the offense of corporal injury with great bodily injury on your spouse, you will face enhanced penalties. The penalty enhancement is according to California PC 12022.7 PC. This Penal Code outlines sentencing enhancements involving great bodily injury.  You will get additional and consecutive imprisonment of three, four, or five years in a state prison in California. 

Formal or Informal Probation

Instead of imposing imprisonment after violating PC 273.5, judges may decide to recommend probation. For a misdemeanor conviction, a judge may recommend summary or informal probation. For a felony conviction, a judge may recommend formal or felony probation. 

The typical length of misdemeanor probation is one to three years. Felony probation may last longer, typically between three and five years. The judge may require you to serve up to one year in a county jail in California and then complete the rest of the informal probation sentence.  The judge mainly recommends probation for first-time offenders. A judge may also recommend probation instead of jail time if other mitigating factors are present.  If you are a repeat offender, the chances of getting probation sentencing are lower. 

Whether you are serving formal or informal probation, you may have to abide by various requirements of probation. The requirements of probation will vary depending on the discretion of the judge and the seriousness of your offense. 

Some of the common conditions of probation include paying fines and restitution to the victim. Paying restitution to the victim entails reimbursing the victim for all the costs and expenses the victim may have incurred concerning the offense.  For instance, you may reimburse the victim for medical costs incurred in seeking treatment for corporal injuries inflicted on him or her. You may also reimburse the victim for lost wages if the injuries kept the victim away from work. 

You may have to pay costs not exceeding $5,000 to cater for the battered victim's shelter. Other conditions of probation include carrying out community service and roadside work. While you are on probation, you should not violate additional laws.

The court may impose a restraining order against you, requiring you to stay away from the victim.  If a restraining order is in place, you should not come into contact with the victim. The restraining order may last up to ten years.

As a condition of probation, you may have to attend a class for domestic violence. The class may last for up to 52 weeks. 

In some instances, you have to serve a minimum jail sentence, even if the court recommends probation. For instance, if you have a previous conviction in the past seven years, and the conviction involves domestic violence or assault, you have to serve minimum jail time for fifteen days.  If you have two previous convictions for domestic violence, you have to serve minimum jail time for sixty days.

Violating the Terms of Probation

The judge may convene a probation violation hearing if it is evident that you did  not comply with the terms of probation.  At the probation hearing, the probation officer presents his/her case and provides evidence of a violation of the terms of probation.  If it is evident that you have violated the terms of probation, you may face three possible outcomes.

The judge may decide to have you continue with similar terms of probation and reinstate the probation. The judge may decide to impose additional often harsher terms of probation. Lastly, the judge may decide to revoke your probation. If the judge decides to revoke the terms of your probation, he/she may decide to send you to prison or jail. 

Implications of Violation of PC 273.5 on your Immigration Status

Under the federal immigration law, a violation under PC 273.5 is a crime of domestic violence.  This makes a crime of corporal injury on an intimate partner a deportable crime.  The crime of inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner may also qualify as a crime that involves moral turpitude. A violation of Penal Code 273.5 may also qualify as an aggravated felony under California law.

Corporal Injury on a spouse or cohabitant is an inadmissible crime. If you commit this crime, the consequences include a lack of right to re-enter the country after leaving. You will not have the possibility of becoming a citizen of the United States.  You cannot become a U.S citizen through naturalization if you are guilty of this crime. You will not have a right to apply for an adjustment of your immigration status. It may also be impossible for you to apply for a green card. If you commit an offense under PC 273.5, you may not be able to change your immigration status from illegal to legal.

The California Three Strikes Law

Some offenses may qualify as a strike on your record according to the California Three Strikes laws.  If the offense of corporal injury on your intimate partner results in great bodily injury, the offense is a serious felony. A serious felony is also a strike according to the Three Strikes law in California.

If you have a strike on your record and you commit an additional serious felony, you become a second striker.  If you are a second striker, you will face a sentence that is twice as long. If you already have two strikes on your record and you commit a subsequent offense, you may face a sentence of up to twenty-five years to life in prison.

When the Accuser Fails to Cooperate

In most cases involving domestic violence, the accuser may refuse to cooperate.  For instance, the accuser may recant the allegations or refuse to testify.  However, failure of the accuser to cooperate does not mean that the prosecutor will drop your charges. 

In some cases, under PC 273.5, the victim may decide not to press charges.  However, in most cases, the prosecutors are never willing to accept the victim's decision to drop charges. The prosecutor may assume that the defendant has threatened or coerced the victim to drop the charges. The prosecutor may also say that the victim's decision to drop charges is due to emotional manipulation by the defendant.  Therefore, even if the victim drops charges against you, the prosecutor will still charge you. 

However, the prosecutor will have a hard time proving his case against you if the victim decides not to press charges. Your attorney can take advantage of this scenario and stage up a defense in your favor. The prosecutor may not have a choice but to offer a plea agreement or dismiss your charges, especially if he/she has no strong evidence against you. 

In some other instances, the victim may fail to cooperate by refusing to testify during the trial.  The prosecutor may force the victim to come to court and testify even against the victim's will.  This is because a prosecutor usually has subpoena power of the court.  To exercise this power, the prosecutor serves the witness with a subpoena to appear in court. If the victim fails to honor the prosecutor's instructions, the judge may issue an arrest warrant for the victim.

If it is impossible to bring the accuser to court, the prosecutor may not be able to continue with the corporal injury on an intimate partner charges.  For instance, it may be impossible to continue with the case if the victim or another flees jurisdiction or goes into hiding. The prosecutor may not be able to continue with the case due to the provisions of the California Evidence Code 1200(a).

 According to this rule, hearsay evidence refers to any secondhand evidence provided by another party other than the recognized witness on the record. It also entails evidence made to prove the truth of the matter stated.  All the statements a witness provides out of court do not count in a case.  For witness statements to be valid, the defendant must have an opportunity to examine and react to or oppose the statements from opposing witnesses.  Therefore, if it is not possible to bring the victim or the witness in court, the prosecutor may have no option but to dismiss the case. 

Fighting Charges Under PC 273.5

If you are facing charges under PC 273.5, you do not have to accept all the charges the prosecutor brings against you. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can oppose the allegations of the prosecutor.

You may assert that you were acting in self-defense or defense of another person.  For you to assert self-defense or defense of someone else, it should be evident that you or another person was in danger of suffering physical harm.  It should also be evident that it was necessary to use force to prevent harm from occurring.  You should not have used more force than was necessary under the circumstances. 

You may fight the charges by pointing out that you did not willfully or intentionally inflict injury on the victim.  For instance, you cannot face charges if you accidentally injured the victim. 

You may also argue that you are a victim of false accusations. If a romantic relationship turns sour, your partner may accuse you falsely of injuring him or her.

Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney Near Me

You do not have to face the harsh consequences of corporal injury on a spouse alone. You need an experienced domestic violence attorney to help you come up with a proper defense. Darwish Law assists people facing charges for domestic violence in Santa Ana. Contact us at 714-887-4810 and speak to one of our attorneys.