Domestic violence or abuse is a common crime in many Southern California homes. Often, when an officer is called to investigate a home that has been previously flagged, someone is likely to end up behind bars. One common domestic abuse crime is a corporal injury which refers to any physical harm, minor or significant, on a close or intimate person resulting in a traumatic condition. The penalties stemming from a sentence for the crime are no more than four years in jail and court fines of up to $6,000.
If you have been arrested for corporal injury charges, PC 273.5, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are guilty. You need to defend yourself against the charges, and the best way to do this effectively is by securing a release on bail. It allows you to continue with your professional and other obligations and spend more time building your case. The agents from 24 Hour Online Bail Bonds are available to secure your freedom awaiting trial.
Legal Definition of Corporal Injury
As per California PC 273.5, any act of crime by any person involving deliberate infliction of bodily harm that may cause a traumatic condition on an intimate or close person. And although many surveys demonstrate that women are the most common victims of these crimes, anybody, including a child, current or ex-spouse, partner, cohabitant mother, or father of your child, can be a victim. Note that PC 273.5 can only be deemed corporal injury if the alleged perpetrator is an intimate person.
Who is Deemed an Intimate Partner?
For this section, an intimate partner is:
- Your current or ex-spouse, either wife or husband
- Your existing or former registered domestic partner
- Your one-time or current fiance
- The biological parent of your child
- Any person you are alleged to have been in a serious dating relationship with
- Your former or current live-in partner
Remember, for your case to be deemed corporal injury; you must have willfully caused the victim’s physical injuries. The victim must be your current or former intimate partner, and your actions must have caused a traumatic condition.
You will be said to have engaged in an act willfully or deliberately when you do something intentionally, but with fear of breaking the law. An excellent example of this case is when you squeeze your spouse’s arm hard enough to leave bruises. You deliberately squeezed the harm, but you didn’t intend to injure your spouse. You will face corporal injury charges in this scenario because although your actions were willful, you didn’t plan on breaking the law.
Legal Definition of a Traumatic Condition
Under PC 273.5, a traumatic condition is any bodily harm or wound resulting from the application of physical force by the defendant. The court doesn’t need the injuries to be severe for a conviction to happen. The crucial element is evidence of the injuries and not their extent.
The injuries outlined under this statute include bruises, sprain, internal bleeding, strangulation injuries, and concussions. If you caused any of these injuries, you would face corporal injury charges.
The court requires the prosecuting team to prove particular factors to demonstrate that the injuries were the cause of the traumatic condition. For a traumatic disorder to be deemed as an outcome of an injury:
- It must have been a neutral and probable cause of the harm
- The injury was a direct and significant cause of the condition
- Was it not for the damage, the traumatic situation could not have occurred
Suppose, today, you argue with your girlfriend resulting in a physical confrontation. She dashes out of the house to the streets, where she is hit by a car moments later and breaks her limb. If the girlfriend files a lawsuit under PC 273.5, the court will find you innocent. A traumatic condition your girlfriend experiences is breaking a limb, and because it was not as a result of the violence in the house, you will not be convicted.
Penalties for Corporal Injury Conviction
Corporal injury charges being a wobbler means that they can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor based on the severity or degree of the bodily harm in question and the judge’s discretion. On top of the facts of the case, the prosecutor also considers your previous criminal record.
If the court finds you guilty of a misdemeanor corporal injury after determining that you willfully inflicted physical harm on your victim, you will face:
- No more than twelve months jail custody
- Court fines and fees not exceeding $6,000
If you have a domestic violence history and the bodily harm caused to the victim is significant, the prosecutor will charge you with a felony PC 273.5. When convicted, you will face:
- Twenty-four, thirty-six, or forty-eight months in prison
- A court fine not exceeding $6,000
With proper legal representation, you can avoid any of these penalties and be sentenced to summary or formal probation based on the preferred charge by the prosecution.
If charged with felony corporal injury and after thorough investigations, it’s evident you have been previously charged with:
- Corporal injury
- Assaulting another person while in possession of a firearm
- Battery resulting in severe bodily harm
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Assault in possession of hazardous chemicals. Then you will face a different set of charges.
A prior conviction for battery, assault, or corporal injury will increase your PC 273.5 penalties to twenty-four to sixty months in jail custody and court fines amounting to $10,000.
If your prior conviction were for a PC 243(e) battery violation, a future conviction for felony corporal punishment would result in a sentence increase of two to four years plus court fines of no more than $10,000.
Corporal Injury with Great Bodily Injury (GBI)
Sometimes, the use of physical force on an intimate partner might result in G.B.I. In cases like these, you may face sentence enhancement under PC 12022.7. For purposes of this statute, G.B.I. means significant or severe bodily harm. The injuries include:
- Gunshot wounds
- Severe discoloration
- Puffed up eyes with visible bruises
- Shuttered bones
Probation on corporal Injury Cases
The judge handling your case has the discretion to impose probation instead of a domestic abuse sentence. The judge might impose summary or formal probation depending on whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor.
Usually, summary probation lasts for between 12 to 36 months, while for a felony, the probation lasts for three to five years. Probation is granted when it’s your first-time offense or mitigating factors that make the case deemed less severe.
Probation allows you to stay out of jail, but unfortunately, it’s not available for everyone. Strict conditions have been put in place, and one must adhere to them. These conditions are:
- Refraining from violating any laws
- Engaging in community labor which includes roadside works
- Reimbursing the alleged victims for the expenses incurred in counseling and other costs incurred in seeking medical treatment.
- Paying a court-dictated fine of no more than $5,000 to a battered women's shelter
- Attending a mandatory fifty-two-week domestic violence class
- At least fifteen days in jail if you have a prior conviction within the last seven years for domestic violence or sixty days if you have two or more similar offenses.
- Complying with the protective order requiring you to stay away from the victim for ten years
Note that failure to comply with these conditions will result in the judge scheduling a probation violation hearing. Suppose it shows you violated any of the above-listed requirements. In that case, the judge can opt to continue with probation as before, impose newer or harsher terms, or discontinue probation and send you to jail or prison with the utmost degree of the sentence.
Under the federal immigration law, corporal injury is deemed as domestic violence and, for this reason, has severe consequences on the defendant. Additionally, PC 273.5 is classified as a moral turpitude crime or aggravated felony. Both the moral turpitude and deportable categories are considered inadmissible. Being inadmissible means:
- Loss of the right to enter the U.S. once you leave its boundaries
- No chance to become a U.S. citizen in California or any other state in the country
- No right to apply for a green card or change of illegal to legal immigration documents, also known as adjustment of status
G.B.I. Making PC 273.5 a Strike
Suppose you willingly use physical force on an intimate partner, resulting in great bodily harm. In that case, the offense is classified as a serious felony and a strike under the Three Strikes law.
For instance, if you have been previously convicted of a serious felony and then end up with subsequent felony charges, you will be deemed a second striker. Your sentence will be twice as long as the sentence required by the law. For a third striker or a person with previous strikes, a third one will result in a minimum of 25 years in prison or a maximum of lifetime incarceration.
Los Angeles County Lacks Sentence Enhancement
From the beginning of 8th December 2020, the DA in Los Angeles County no longer pursues sentence enhancement under PC 12022.7 for defendants charged with corporal injury-causing great bodily injury. Therefore, if you inflict minor injuries like bruises and an intimate partner and the other person causes serious harm to an intimate partner, both cases will be treated equally and subject to the same penalties.
You will not face an additional maximum of five years for causing severe injuries. Further, the offense will not add a strike to your record, meaning you won’t be subject to additional penalties.
Fighting Corporal Injury Charges
When faced with PC 273.5 violation charges, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you contest the charges using the right strategies to seek bail for a reduced or dismissed charge. The arguments made by your attorney depend on evidence presented by the prosecuting team against you. While the facts surrounding each case are unique, the common defenses for corporal injury include:
- You were defending yourself or someone else
- You didn’t deliberately inflict injuries on the victim
- You are falsely or wrongfully accused
These and other legal defense strategies used by a criminal defense attorney in these cases are discussed below.
Under this defense strategy, your attorney can assert that your actions were triggered by the need to protect you or someone else from the wrath posed by the victim. For this argument to hold ground, the attorney must demonstrate that:
- You reasonably believed that you or another individual was in imminent danger of bodily harm caused by the actions or presence of the victim.
- You believed that the immediate use of force to repel the threat was necessary.
- The force used was proportionate and not more than what you needed to repel the danger.
If you can prove these three scenarios are present in your case, you will avoid a conviction.
Your Actions were Not Deliberate
You will face conviction under PC 273.5 if it is proven that you acted willingly when you inflicted injuries on the victim. It means that if the victim sustained injuries due to an accident resulting from a heated argument, your actions were not deliberate, making you not guilty.
In an incident like this, you can have the court dismiss the case or have the crime reduced to a less severe offense like domestic battery.
You are Falsely Accused
Cases of people accusing others falsely of bodily injuries are rampant in Southern California. Because of this, many innocent people end up behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit. Most victims who falsely accuse others of these crimes act out of anger, jealousy, or the need to revenge. Luckily, a profound attorney will evaluate your case and do the following:
- Subpoena the victim’s text messages, emails, and social media accounts
- Interview the victim, the accuser’s family, neighbors, friends, and co-workers
- Conduct a thorough background check on the victim and the alleged witnesses
A thorough and independent evaluation will reveal the victim had other hidden motives, resulting in case dismissal or charge reduction.
What Happens When the Victim Fails to Testify?
As mentioned earlier, corporal injury is a domestic violence crime, and the accuser is usually an intimate partner. Sometimes, you might convince the victim not to testify in court or to recant the accusations. Unfortunately for you, this doesn’t mean the DA will drop the charges.
When your victim decides to drop charges, the prosecutor will assume that you have threatened or coerced the victim into doing so or you emotionally manipulated them. The prosecutor is likely to proceed with filing formal charges.
However, this will not come without challenges. When an alleged accuser fails to cooperate, the prosecuting team’s work becomes more challenging. If this is the case, your attorney can convince the prosecutor to offer a plea deal or dismiss the charges if the remaining evidence without the witness’s testimony is weak.
Even after charges have been filed, the accuser may change their mind and refuse to testify in the trial. It’s a massive blow to the case, but the prosecutor can subpoena the victim, forcing them to appear in court to testify.
Remember, the prosecutor must do the subpoenaing of the accuser, and if they refuse to show up in court, a bench warrant might be issued against them for an arrest.
However, not all the time can an accuser be forced to appear and testify in court. It happens if the accuser flees the jurisdiction or goes into hiding. The prosecutor cannot proceed with a case like this because of the hearsay rule coded under Evidence Code 1200(a). The law applies when a statement is made out of court by someone else, and it would be used to demonstrate the truth of the matter.
The hearsay evidence is often a secondary statement made by another person, other than the witness, as evidence of the stated issue. The evidence is inadmissible in court because, as a defendant, you must be accorded the opportunity to cross-examine and confront the witness from the opposing party. This means if a complainant witness cannot appear before the court to testify, the case will lack evidence resulting in a dismissal.
It’s worth noting that if your charges are dropped under these circumstances, you can seal your arrest records, and it will appear as if you have never been charged.
As seen above, corporal injury charges can have severe life consequences upon conviction. For this reason, you need to work closely with an attorney and put together resources and strategies that will have the charges reduced or dismissed. You can’t do this effectively while behind bars, meaning you need to secure your release on bail first. Agents at 24 Hour Online Bail Bonds are available to help you secure a bond to adequately prepare for the case or convince the accuser to drop the charges.
Find the Right Bail Bonds Company Near Me
Southern California experiences many domestic violence cases, and one of these cases is corporal injury, PC 273.5. Some of those arrested are innocent while others are guilty, but the case must go to trial for this to be determined. The charges can take weeks or months to conclude, making it necessary to secure pretrial release through a bail bond.
If you are in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, and San Bernardino and want to secure freedom awaiting trial, reach out to 24 Hour Online Bail Bonds at 800-930-8999 for more information on Bail Bonds.