Great Bodily Injury Sentencing Enhancement - California Penal Code Section 12022.7
A great bodily injury sentencing enhancement is covered under California Penal Code Section 12022.7. This means if you are convicted of a felony crime, you could face additional punishment if the Los Angeles County prosecutor alleges a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury during the commission of a felony or an attempt to commit a felony offense. It’s important to note that causing great bodily injury on someone isn't a crime in itself, rather a sentencing enhancement. If the prosecutor is able to prove the GBI enhancement, you could face a consecutive three to six years in a California state prison in addition to your underlying sentence. Compared to other sentencing enhancements laws in California, the enhancement for causing great bodily injury (GBI) is pretty straightforward. The term “great bodily injury” is used as a legal term that simply means there were significant or substantial physical injuries and does not include any emotional or financial harm. It should be noted that a GBI doesn’t have to permanent and what exactly is considered a great bodily injury is normally decided case-by-case. However, the typical factors that are considered are the exact severity and pain of the injury and if there was any need for medical attention. As you see, the definition of a GBI is broad and often vague and frequently left up to the jury to decide on each case. A common scenario of when a Penal Code 12022.7 great bodily injury enhancement would apply includes domestic violence related offenses. For example, corporal injury on a spouse under California Penal Code Section 273.5 is often charged when there are great bodily injury allegations. If you cause a significant injury on your spouse, such as a broken bone of any injury requiring medical treatment, this could qualify as a sentencing enhancement under California Penal Code Section 12022.7. If you have been accused of causing a great bodily injury during the commission of a crime, contact the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Eisner Gorin LLP to review the sepcific details of your case. Let’s examine the legal language below.
Legal Definition of GBI Enhancement
California Penal Code Section 12022.7 legally describes the great bodily injury sentencing enhancement as follows:
(a) Anyone who personally inflicts great bodily injury on someone other than an accomplice while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of in prison for three years.
Subsection (f) defines a “great bodily injury” as a significant or substantial physical injury. Common example of what type of injuries would qualify as a GBI include broken bones, gunshot wounds, concussion, wound requiring stitches, dog bites, and a black eye. It should be noted that causing a significant injury to yourself or an accomplice to your crime does not qualify for a sentencing enhancement. Additionally, a GBI enhancement will only apply if the injury is more severe than the injury that would have normally resulted from the underlying offense.
Sexual Related Crimes for GBI Enhancement
Anyone who inflicts great bodily injury defined in Penal Code Section 12022.7 on a victim violating California Penal Code Section 220 that involves a specific sexual offenses such as rape, sodomy, child molestation, oral copulation by force, violence, duress, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim shall receive an additional five-year sentencing enhancement for each violation.
An example under this statute includes vaginal soreness resulting from a rape, spreading a sexually transmitted disease, getting the victim pregnant, among other GBI’s sustained during the commission of a sex crime.
When Does a GBI Enhancement not Apply?
There are several examples of when a great bodily injury sentencing enhancement under California Penal Code Section 12022.7 would not apply. It’s important to note that a GBI enhancement only applies to felony charges. Any misdemeanor charge would not be eligible for an enhancement. An enhancement would not be applicable under the following situations:
- You didn’t personally inflict great bodily injury on someone else
- You weren’t in the commission of a felony offense, or an attempt
- The victim only sustained minor or moderate injuries
- You are charged with hit & run under California Vehicle Code 20001
- You are charged with murder or manslaughter
- If the underlying offense contains an element of “great bodily injury.”
Another example where you would not face a GBI sentencing enhancement includes a situation where someone suffers great bodily injury due to a DUI car accident. However, you could face a conviction for driving under the influence causing injury under California Vehicle Code 23153.
Related Underlying Offenses
As stated above, a great bodily injury enhancement will only apply if the injuries are more severe than an injury that would have normally resulted from the underlying offense. For example:
California Penal Code Section 273.5 - Corporal Injury on Spousal
California Penal Code Section 273d - Child Abuse
California Penal Code Section 368 - Elder Abuse
California Penal Code Section 242 - Battery
California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1) – Assault with Deadly Weapon
Sentencing Enhancement for GBI
As stated above, this enhancement under California Penal Code Section 12022.7 will apply if you cause “great bodily injury” to someone while committing, or attempting to commit, a felony crime. The typical sentencing enhancement for GBI is an additional 3 years in a California state prison. The key word here is “additional,” as it adds to your sentencing for the underlying felony conviction. This additional sentence runs consecutively to that sentence. However, there are other situations where you could face even more additional time than the standard 3 years. For example:
You could face an additional punishment of five consecutive years in a California state prison for a felony offense that caused a GBI if the victim sustains complete loss of motor function from an injury to their nervous system or muscular mechanism, such as paralysis.
Victim over 70 Years Old
You could also face an additional punishment of five consecutive years in a California state prison for a felony crime causing great bodily injury when the victim is over 70 years old.
Victim less than 5 Years Old
You could face an additional 4, 5, or 6 consecutive years in state prison for a felony crime causing GBI when the victim is less than 5 years old, or for cases involving domestic violence or a sexual related crime.
Finally, under California’s three strikes law, a great bodily injury enhancement will not only count as a strike on your criminal record, it could subject you to an additional and consecutive 3 to 6 years in state prison.
Contact our Criminal Defense Law Firm
You can clearly see from the information above that a conviction for a GBI sentencing enhancement under California Penal Code Section 12022.7 can result is serious and life-changing legal consequences. If you have been accused of a serious crime that may involve an enhancement, you need to contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to review the details of you case and start planning a defense strategy. Contact our law office at 877-781-1570.
Eisner Gorin LLP
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Los Angeles, CA 90067