Criminal Defense Attorneys Providing Aggressive Legal Defense Against Individuals Accused of Corporal Injury On A Spouse Or Cohabitant
Corporal injury to spouse or cohabitant charges are covered under California Penal Code Section 273.5. It's generally defined as willfully inflicting a physical injury resulting in a traumatic condition on an intimate partner. Typically, the injuries are visible, but could also include internal injuries. Some common examples of injuries that would be considered a corporal injury would include scratches, bruising, swelling, broken nose, or a concussion.
A traumatic condition means a wound or other types of bodily injuries that were caused by a direct application of physical force. It's important to note here that the injuries don't have to be a serious physical condition. A minor wound or injury could be sufficient to be charged with this domestic violence related offense.
The alleged victim could include a current or former spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, cohabitant, or parent of defendant's children. In Los Angeles County Criminal Courts, corporal injury to a spouse is also commonly known as domestic violence, domestic abuse, spousal abuse, and willful infliction of a corporal injury.
Again, in this type domestic violence related crime, it's typically required that the victim sustain some type of substantial physical injury, which is the main difference between the less-serious charges of domestic battery under California Penal Code Section 243(e).
Under PC 273.5, corporal injury to a spouse is a “wobbler” offense, meaning the LA County prosecutor can file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. Once the case proceeds through the Los Angeles criminal court, there are situations where the prosecutor might be willing to agree on a reduced charge through plea negotiations with your criminal defense lawyer.
They will normally make their decision on how to file the case based on the specific facts of the incident and the defendant's prior criminal history. One common example in Los Angeles County includes a domestic violence incident where a husband grabs his wife's arm during an argument, leaving visible bruises.
Many people don't realize 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. California Penal Code 422 makes it a crime to use criminal threats against someone. Many people who are convicted of a domestic violence offense in a Los Angeles County criminal court are placed on probation for a certain amount of time.
Can the victim drop the charges? No. Even if the victim later decides they don't want to purse criminal charges, the prosecutor will most likely proceed to formally charge you with corporal injury on a spouse anyway. Why? In most cases, prosecutors will assume the victim only wants to drop charges because they are being coerced or manipulated by the defendant.
If you have been accused of corporal injury to a spouse, you should immediately consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP. Remain silent. Do not make any statements to police detectives as their goal is to build a solid case against you in order to obtain a conviction. We understand the most common domestic violence defenses in Los Angeles criminal courts. Even for those arrested for a first-offense domestic violence, the process can be intimidating.
Any incriminating statement you make will be used against you later during the court process. A conviction could carry harsh consequences to your personal and professional life. Our law firm has a track record of success in domestic violence related criminal cases. Now that we have covered a basic overview of corporal injury to a spouse charges above, let's take a closer look at the legal definition, penalties, and potential defenses below.
California Penal Code Section 273.5 – Corporal Injury on a Spouse
Under California Penal Code Section 273.5, corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant is legally defined as:
(a) Any person who willfully inflicts a corporal injury that results in a traumatic condition upon a victim is guilty of a felony, and if convicted, shall be punished by 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. This shall apply if the victim is or was (1) the defendant's spouse or former spouse (2) cohabitant or former cohabitant (3) fiancée or someone with whom the defendant has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship (4) the mother or father of the defendant's child.
The term “willfully” means it was on purpose. Again, a traumatic condition means injuries caused by physical force, such as broken bones, black eye, or internal bleeding. However, the injuries don't have to be substantial. Minor injuries, such as an abrasion, small cut, or even a sprained ankle could prove sufficient to secure a conviction.
The criminal offense of corporal injury on a spouse can only be committed against someone with whom you have an intimate relationship. In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to obtain a conviction under California Penal Code Section 273.5., they must be able to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, certain elements of the crime. These elements include:
- You willfully and unlawfully inflicted a physical injury on another individual
- The physical injury resulted in a traumatic condition
- The individual you injured is your current or former intimate partner
- Your actions were not in self defense or defense of another individual
If the alleged victim suffers a great bodily injury from the incident, the Los Angeles County prosecutor might allege an enhancement that would elevate the charge as a “strike” under California's Three Strike laws.
Legal Penalties for a Corporal Injury on a Spouse Conviction
The legal penalties and sentencing for a conviction under California Penal Code Section 273.5 can be serious. As stated above, this domestic violence offense can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony charge. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor corporal injury on a spouse offense, the legal penalties include:
- Up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail
- A fine up to $6,000
- Misdemeanor summary probation
If you are convicted corporal injury on a spouse as a felony charge, the legal penalties include:
- Up to 2,3, or 4 years in a California state prison
- A fine up to $6,000
- Felony formal probation
Additionally, the legal consequences of a misdemeanor or felony conviction of corporal injury on a spouse will most likely include a restraining order or criminal protective order that will prohibit you from making any contact with the victim for up to 10 years.
If your corporal injury on a spouse was prosecuted as a felony case, and the victim sustained significant injuries, you could face a great bodily injury (significant injury) sentence enhancement leading to an additional 3-5 years in a California state prison. If you are convicted of domestic violence in Los Angeles, you might also be ordered to pay victim restitution under California Penal Code 1203.097, which is a mandatory requirement of probation.
Furthermore, your penalties will increase if you have recent prior domestic violence or assault related convictions. These prior convictions include offenses, within the past 7 years, of battery, aggravated battery, assault with a deadly weapon, sexual battery, or any great bodily injury sentence enhancement.
The consequences of a domestic violence related conviction for an undocumented immigrant can lead to deportation as it's considered a deportable crime under federal law. In addition, corporal injury on a spouse is known as a crime of moral turpitude, meaning a conviction could impact you ability to obtain certain professional licenses. Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm for more information.
Probation Conditions for a Penal Code 273.5 Conviction
If you convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony case of corporal injury on a spouse, and sentenced to probation, which is commonly known as a “suspended sentence,” your probation conditions will typically include (1) mandatory 52 week batterer's treatment program (2) reimbursement of expenses for the victim to attend counseling (3) make up to a $5,000 payment to a battered woman's shelter.
Any violation of the terms of probation will typically lead to a sentence in the county jail. The most common ways defendant's violate probation include failure to complete the batterers program as ordered by the court, failure to report to their probation officer, make contact with the victim, and failure to pay court ordered fines.
Legal Defenses Against Corporal Injury on a Spouse Charges
An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm can use a variety of legal defenses to have your charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. Every case of corporal injury to a spouse is unique and a defense strategy will be based on the specific circumstances. These legal defenses include:
- Self-defense: Our criminal defense attorneys may be able to prove you had a reasonable belief that you or another person was in imminent danger from suffering a bodily injury. Therefore, you reasonably believed you had to immediately use force to defend yourself and you used no more force than necessary. Documenting any cuts or bruises you received during the incident could be critical evidence on your behalf. You have the legal right to defend yourself.
- False Accusation: Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for people to be falsely accused of domestic violence. In some cases, these false allegations are made out of jealously, revenge, anger, or seen as an advantage in a child custody dispute. Our criminal defense lawyers may be able to prove the accusations are false by interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence.
- Accident: You can't be convicted of corporal injury on a spouse unless the prosecutor can prove you willfully injured the victim. Our lawyers may be able to present evidence proving the injury was an accident. It' not uncommon for unintentional injuries to occur during a heated argument, especially if any intoxication was involved.
Call a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been accused of corporal injury on a spouse, the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Eisner Gorin are committed to defending your legal rights and freedom. As former prosecutors, we understand the best defense strategies to prevent a domestic violence case from getting to trail.
We are skilled courtroom negotiators and may be able to prevent formal charges be filed against you. Early intervention into you case by our law firm is critical to the outcome of your case. See related blog: Defending Domestic Violence Charges in Los Angeles. Our attorneys have a track record of success in domestic violence related cases. Here is just one review posted from a former client:
“Dmitry Gorin handled my domestic violence case and was so professional. It was a very stressful situation for me personally but he was so informative and up front in planning an attack to fight the charges. His hard work paid off because I got all criminal charges against dismissed. I'm so thankful for his efforts and would hire him again without question.” - A. C.
Call our law firm to closely review the details of your case and discuss a strategy. We offer a free immediate response. Contact our law office at 877-781-1570.