San Diego Corporal Injury Lawyer
Corporal Injury in San Diego
Imagine you are required to appear in court for hurting your spouse. The local law enforcement is trying to tear your family apart. It is up to you to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to set the record straight and keep your family together during this confusing and stressful situation. Police officers are required to make an arrest after being called for a domestic dispute in the interest of justice and to keep the peace. This does not necessarily mean that you should be convicted of this crime! However, these charges are serious and have serious consequences if you are found guilty. You must contact a San Diego attorney with experience in assisting clients in San Diego in domestic violence cases, including corporal injury and just as complex domestic battery cases.
What is the definition of corporal injury and what does it mean to inflict corporal injury?
This offense occurs under PC 273.5 when one partner willfully inflicts a physical injury on the other partner by the direct application of physical force and causes a traumatic condition in that person.
A person from a former or current intimate relationship.
To do something on purpose.
Application of Force:
The harmful or offensive touching of a partner. This can be done indirectly by causing contact with an object or even through another person.
The natural and probable result of the direct physical injury that was caused by the application of physical force.
The person’s body, clothing, or something attached to their person.
Understanding Penal Code Section 273.5
In consideration of the seriousness of corporal injury, California has criminalized it under Penal Code section 273.5. Under this law, “Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction, thereof 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 six thousand dollars or by both that fine and imprisonment.”
Basically, to convict someone of PC 273.5, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
1) The defendant willfully and unlawfully inflicted a physical injury upon:
- A current or former dating relationship,
- A current or former fiancee,
- A current or former spouse,
- A current or former cohabitant, or
- The mother or father of the defendant’s child,
2) The injury resulted in a traumatic condition.
What is a corporal injury charge?
Corporal injury can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
The willful infliction of a corporal injury on an intimate partner is a wobbler. A wobbler is a charge that the prosecutor has discretion to file as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In corporal injury cases, the issuing attorney at the District Attorney’s Office determines the severity of the charges based on two important factors:
First, the alleged victim’s traumatic condition.
What constitutes a traumatic condition for corporal injury varies, it can be something as simple as offensive touching or as serious as great bodily injury. The range of possibilities is what makes corporal injury a wobbler offense. The seriousness of the injury can make the difference between filing the case as a misdemeanor or felony.
In San Diego, it is standard procedure for police officers to arrive at the scene and immediately begin taking photographs. They are trained to take pictures of the scene, the alleged victim, and the alleged offender. The problem is that any pictures collected at the scene of a corporal injury dispute will only tell one side of the story. Which means that pictures collected of the victim’s injuries will be direct evidence used by the prosecutor to determine the severity of the charges against you.
It is important to note that if there is evidence that the victim suffered great bodily injury, the issuing attorney will consider this an aggravating factor in your case. An aggravating factor is any fact that increases the culpability of the defendant in a criminal offense. For corporal injury, the fact that the victim’s injury was significant and substantial will increase the severity of the charges to a felony. Moreover, you could receive a sentence enhancement of three to five additional years in state prison for great bodily injury under California PC 273.5.
Second, the alleged offender’s criminal history.
In San Diego, the District Attorney’s office has discretion to use a defendant’s criminal history to decide whether to charge corporal injury as a misdemeanor or felony. This means that if you have any prior convictions in the state of California they can be used against you to increase the severity of the charges under PC 273.5. It is important to note that any priors involving offensive touching or application of force on another person will not be excluded as unfairly prejudicial evidence. The issuing criminal attorney can and will introduce this as evidence of an aggravating factor in your case to charge you with felony corporal injury. You could even receive a sentence enhancement of up to five years in state prison under California PC 273.5 if your criminal history shows recent priors for the same offense.
Hence, the discretion the prosecutor has on charging a wobbler can be detrimental if there are aggravating factors present. Aggravating factors give the prosecutor discretion to increase the severity of the charges and to impose harsher penalties against you if convicted. Having an experienced local criminal attorney representing you can make all the difference in the charges of a wobbler offense. A San Diego attorney knows how prosecutors handle corporal injury cases in this jurisdiction and will be in the best position to negotiate the charges against you.
Mitigating Factors Tell Your Side of the Story
Equally important are the mitigating factors that your defense attorney will use to wobble down or minimize your exposure at sentencing. Mitigating factors are your opportunity to explain the underlying circumstances of the offense. Any evidence particular to your case that may be considered to lessen your culpability will be presented to the court to overcome the aggravating factors. These are some of the most common mitigating circumstances that demand consideration in a corporal injury case:
- The victim’s injury was minor.
- Your lack of criminal history.
- Your priors are unrelated.
- Your priors are minor offenses.
- Past incidents in which the alleged victim was the aggressor and you were the victim.
Corporal Injury Penalties
Misdemeanor Corporal Injury
A successful wobble down will result in misdemeanor charges for corporal injury. The misdemeanor penalties under California PC 273.5 are as follows:
- A sentence up to 1 year in county jail;
- A fine of up to $6,000;
- Informal probation;
- At least 1 year of batterer’s class;
- A protective order;
- A restraining order;
- Payments to a battered women’s shelter and/or reimbursement to the victim for any medical services reasonably incurred as a result of the offense.
Felony Corporal Injury
If corporal injury wobbles up, this will result in felony charges. The felony penalties under California PC 273.5 are as follows:
- A sentence of 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison;
- A fine of up to $6,000;
- Formal probation;
- An additional and consecutive 3, 4, or 5-year prison sentence if the victim sustained a great bodily injury;
- A possible strike under California Three Strikes Law;
- At least 1 year of batterer’s class;
- A protective order;
- A restraining order;
- Payments to a battered women’s shelter and/or reimbursement to the victim for any medical or counseling services reasonably incurred as a result of the offense.
Criminal Protective Order vs. No Negative Contact Order for Corporal Injury Charges
The goal of a criminal protective order is to protect victims of violence and witnesses subject to intimidation during a criminal case. A criminal protective order prohibits all contact with the protected person, their immediate family, and household members. If you are facing charges for corporal injury and a criminal protective order is filed against you this means that:
- You could be prohibited from coming in contact with your partner.
- If you share a residence, you could be removed from the property immediately.
- If you share custody, you could be prevented from seeing your own children.
Conversely, a no negative contact order only prohibits negative contact with the protected person, not contact in general. You see the goal of a no negative contact order is to ensure that contact between the protected person and the defendant remains peaceful. This means that if you are facing corporal injury charges, you will be allowed to remain in contact with your partner. You can go home and be around your family, so long as you are in peaceful contact with each other.
A Conviction for Corporal Injury Carries Immigration Consequences
Domestic violence is a deportable crime. Any offense that arises from a domestic violence dispute carries immigration consequences. Corporal injury falls under the scope of domestic violence because it involves the willful infliction of injury to a person with whom you have an intimate relationship. If convicted of corporal injury, in addition to the penalties under California PC 273.5, a non-U.S. citizen will also face deportation proceedings.
Corporal Injury Related Offenses
In California, child abuse and corporal injury both fall under the broad category of domestic violence or arson. This is because charges for both of these offenses can and often do result from a single occurrence. For example, when corporal injury is committed, the partner abused is not the only person who suffers. The offense of corporal injury is also harmful to the people that care about the victim and who know of the abuse. A lot of times children fall under this category when they are exposed to the violence between the parents. This means that in addition to facing corporal injury charges under PC 273.5, the partner that is being accused could also be charged for child endangerment under California PC 273(a). The well being of the children could be considered endangered if witnessing the abuse causes them unjustifiable mental suffering.
In which scenario will a defendant be found not guilty of committing corporal injury?
Your lawyer will attack any corporal injury charges against you with the following defenses:
- You were falsely accused; you did not actually commit corporal injury.
- It was an accident; you never willfully inflicted injury or violence against your partner.
- Your partner was the original aggressor; you were just acting in self-defense or were protecting another person.
A self-defense claim will be successful if the reason that you used force was because the victim initiated the attack. You must have believed you were in imminent danger of unlawful touching or bodily injury when you defended yourself from the attack. The key to this defense is that you used no more force than was reasonably necessary under the circumstances. This means that the amount of force you exerted in your defense cannot be greater than the force you were being threatened with by the attacker.
San Diego’s Safest Choice against Corporal Injury Charges
As you can see there are different variations of corporal injury cases but they all have one thing in common, they carry life-changing penalties. Don’t leave your life at the hands of the prosecutor, if you find yourself looking at corporal injury charges, contact experienced corporal injury attorneys immediately at (619) 405-0063. Our defense team will tell you exactly what needs to be done every step of the way to prevent you from getting a serious punishment in your case.
Contact San Diego Corporal Injury Criminal Defense Attorneys for a FREE consultation today at: 619-405-0063