If you are facing charges of inflicting corporal injury in the Coachella Valley, surrounding areas, or throughout California, the consequences of a conviction could be severe and life-changing. There is too much at stake to settle for anything less than a well-seasoned and knowledgeable defense attorney with deep experience in this very specific practice area.
At the Law Office of David J. Givot, we have successfully handled numerous corporal injury cases in the past, winning dismissals, and reduced charges/sentences for our clients. Attorney David J. Givot understands both the legal details and the courtroom realities that must be navigated to secure the best possible outcome to your case, and he stands ready to apply his expertise in your best interests.
For a free legal consultation with David J. Givot about your corporal injury defense case, contact him anytime 24/7 at 888-293-0396.
California Corporal Injury Law
In California, corporal injury is defined as a subset of the more general crime of domestic violence. Specifically, it refers to inflicting bodily injury on a victim and is dealt with under Penal Code Section 273.5. The statute also limits the scope of the crime to victims who are (or once were) the defendant's "intimate partners."
Corporal injury often goes by other names, including "spousal abuse" and "domestic abuse." However, it applies not only to spouses but also to fiancés, "cohabitants," those one has dated in the past (crazy ex’s), and to those with whom one has had a child.
Corporal injury cannot be charged for emotional abuse or for non-injurious physical acts (however offensive) but is reserved for "concrete physical" injuries only.
The Elements of the Crime
In order to gain a conviction, the prosecutor must demonstrate the following three elements of the crime beyond all reasonable doubt:
- The defendant "willfully" inflicted a bodily injury on another person.
- That other person was at the time or was formerly an "intimate partner."
- The injury inflicted was the cause of a "traumatic" condition.
Note that "willfully" does not mean you intended the consequences of your actions (the injury) or that you knew your actions were against the law. It only means you intentionally did the act that led to the injury.
The word "traumatic" is used in a peculiar legal sense. It refers to any bodily injury suffered due to a direct application of force. It need not be an extremely serious injury to qualify – a small bruise or red mark can be enough.
The cause and effect relationship between the defendant's action and the traumatic condition must be established and not assumed. If the condition was the likely result of such an action and would not have occurred without the defendant's act, then it is said to be the cause of the traumatic condition.
We have already defined "intimate partner" in the section above, but note that in the legal world (like in the real world), a defendant can have multiple intimate partners simultaneously.
Possible Penalties for Corporal Injury
Infliction of corporal injury on an intimate partner can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The details of the case and defendant's criminal record will determine which is charged.
As a misdemeanor, corporal injury is punishable by:
- A maximum of 12 months in jail.
- A fine of up to $6,000.
- Summary probation.
Felony level corporal injury is punishable by:
- 2 to 4 years in prison.
- The same $6,000 fine.
- Formal probation.
In all cases, a corporal injury conviction is likely to be accompanied by a restraining/protective order that forbids contacting the victim for as long as ten years.
Those with previous conviction on counts of corporal injury, assault, battery, or other domestic violence crimes can get a fine of up to $10,000 on top of the $6,000 fine. They can also see a prison term that is increased by up to 5 years.
For felony charges of corporal injury in which the bodily injury is particularly severe ("great bodily injury"), you can get 3 to 5 extra years in state prison.
If you are an immigrant (any non-citizen U.S. resident), a corporal injury conviction could lead to deportation or, at least, prevent you from obtaining certain professional licenses and diminish the value of your testimony if you later are a witness in a court case.
Also note that corporal injury with great bodily harm is a "strike" on your record under California's "Three Strikes Law."
Those put on probation as part of their sentence for a corporal injury conviction will often see such terms as the following:
- At least 15 days in jail if you have a prior; at least 60 days if you have two priors.
- A mandatory payment of $5,000 to a state-approved battered woman's shelter.
- Full reimbursement to the victim, including for counseling taken as part of the recovery process.
- Mandatory enrollment in and completion of a state-approved "batterers’ treatment program."
Common Defense Strategies
At The Law Office of David J. Givot, we use many defense strategies to win corporal injury cases, but here are some of the most common defenses we employ:
- Defense of self or of others: If you had a reasonable belief that you or another person was about to suffer serious bodily injury, and if you used an appropriate amount of force in response, it is self-defense or defense of others and you cannot be convicted of inflicting corporal injury.
- Accidental injury: If the act that led to the injury was unintentional, it was an accident and you cannot be convicted of corporal injury. If the accident occurred in the midst of an argument with your intimate partner, you may only get the charge reduced, but it is possible to get it dismissed as well.
- Falsely accused: Many times, a former intimate partner will hold a grudge and want to take revenge by making false accusations. If this is the case, we have the tools and experience to put their story to the test and uncover its falsehood.
What If The Alleged Victim Drops the Charges?
In corporal injury and other domestic violence cases, it is fairly common for the accuser to suddenly drop the charges. They may simply not show up to testify in court, or they may actually reverse their testimony.
This does not automatically mean the prosecutor will drop the charges, however. The prosecutor may suspect the victim has been intimidated or manipulated into reversing course and choose to continue the case. However, it will be more difficult to gain a conviction, and either a plea deal or an ultimate dropping of the case often occurs.
The prosecutor may even subpoena the original accuser to testify against his/her will. And if the victim still refuses to appear, a bench warrant may be issued by the presiding judge. In some cases, the accuser may go into hiding or flee. In other cases, statements of the accuser made outside the courtroom may be used. However, these measures do not always work well, and without the cooperation of the accuser, the prosecutor's case is difficult to win.
Other charges similar to infliction of corporal injury (PC 273.5) that may be relevant in the course of the trial include:
- Domestic battery (PC 243e): This crime involves merely touching the intimate partner in an offensive or threatening manner. It is a less severe charge than corporal injury and is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by 12 months in county jail and/or a $2,000 fine. It is possible that a corporal injury charge could be reduced to that of domestic battery in a plea agreement if you have a good defense lawyer.
- Disturbing the peace (PC 415): This offense is one of fighting and/or making unreasonably high noise levels in a public place so as to disturb others around you. It is a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 90 days in jail. In some cases, it is a mere infraction. In some instances, you can get corporal injury reduced to disturbing the peace.
- Elder abuse (PC 368): When physical or mental anguish is "unjustifiably" inflicted on a senior citizen (65 or older), elder abuse has taken place. This can be a misdemeanor or felony. As a felony, it can be punished by 2 to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $6,000. If an intimate partner who suffered corporal injury was a senior, the defendant can be charged with either elder abuse or corporal injury (or with both).
- Child endangerment (PC 273a): If in the process of inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner, a perpetrator threatened or brought a child under danger of injury, he/she can be charged with child endangerment.
Contact Us Today
We at The Law Office of David J. Givot stand ready to assist you in your hour of need with expert legal representation and defense against the charge of corporal injury. David J. Givot has won cases for many of his past clients in and around the Coachella Valley, and he can do the same for you.
To learn more or for a free legal consultation on the details of your case, contact us 24/7 at 888-293-0396.