Criminal offenses attract severe consequences if found guilty. When facing corporal injury charges, you must answer to criminal accusations that could attract jail sentences and hefty fines. Understanding the elements of corporal injury is important, as it will help you be cooperative with your attorney to build strong defenses and fight the charges. Solid defenses could help possibly reduce your charges or even dismiss them.
The criminal trial process consists of different technical strategies that aim to book you as the suspect, analyze the evidence brought against you, and try the case’s facts for a conclusive outcome. Subsequently, you need a criminal defense attorney’s legal services, including representing you in court and building your defense.
At Foos Gavin Law Firm, we dedicate ourselves to serving clients facing charges in Sacramento, California. With our wealth of experience in criminal defense, you can rely on us to help build solid defense strategies for a favorable outcome.
The Legal Definition of Corporal Injury
Under section 273.5 of the California Penal Code, committing corporal injury against an intimate partner is a punishable offense that attracts felony or misdemeanor charges. The specific charge depends on your case circumstances. Corporal injury involves deliberately inflicting serious harm to your victim, causing physical trauma.
The crime is also known as domestic battery or domestic violence, depending on your case specifics and facts. The underlying factor present in all the alternative vocabularies includes inflicting harm to a spouse or an intimate partner, regardless of the intensity of the injury.
Elements of the Crime the Prosecution must Prove
When you learn about your corporal injury charges, it’s essential to understand the Penal Code that makes corporal injury a crime. Knowing these elements is beneficial in preparing you for the prosecutor’s questions during trial. Please note that the prosecutor’s primary goal will be to persuade the judge to find you guilty by relating all crime factors to your case’s circumstances.
Therefore, you want to assess each element that makes up the crime of corporal injury by going over the specific definitions and explanations that match the Penal Code’s information. Your criminal defense attorney will play a fundamental role in analyzing the offense elements, as he/she goes over the relevant details applicable to your case.
Under the criminal trial process, the prosecutor holds the burden of proof to show your alleged involvement. Usually, the standard of proof applicable will require the prosecution team to provide sufficient evidence on each element of crime so that the information leaves little room for doubt or improbable assumptions concerning your involvement in committing corporal injury.
Additionally, the prosecutor will factor in the legal and evidential burden of proof as independent factors in the criminal trial. There is an obligation to establish specific facts to show your corporal injury commission under legal responsibility. In contrast, the evidential burden serves to support the facts that led to the offense. Hence, you need to be ready for the amount of information that the prosecutor produces against you to help you stay guided and prepared for rebuttal.
The main elements of the crime that the prosecutor must prove in the criminal trial are:
You Wilfully Inflicted Physical Harm Leading to Corporal Injury
First, the prosecutor must prove that your action was willful. This means that you deliberately caused harm. To do this, the prosecution team must prove that you did not face any coercion or unforeseen activities that would cause an accident. Moreover, he/she should demonstrate that you understood the consequences of your actions, yet you did them.
The evidential sources revolve around showing your mental state to demonstrate that you had criminal intent to cause physical harm. The activities and behaviors you portrayed moments before or after injuring the victim provide helpful information to the prosecutor, as he/she can derive the necessary details that will be relevant to your case.
Moreover, if the prosecutor has access to evidence like video footage that shows you inflicting harm wilfully, you may have a more difficult time disputing the argument. Sometimes, witnesses may also give testimonies against you during the trial to corroborate the current information. Consequently, your criminal defense lawyer should conduct prior research to establish the proof that the prosecutor intends to present.
Under criminal context, corporal injury may come from various activities. Therefore, the prosecutor must also describe the specific actions you allegedly inflicted to the victim and produce valid evidence to support the claims. For example, if you face accusations for pushing the complainant, who then hit his/her head against the wall, the prosecutor should show that your action was the direct cause of injury.
Other causes of corporal injury include hitting, kicking, or throwing objects at the victim to inflict pain. As discussed, the circumstances of a criminal case vary from one person to another, so that the prosecutor will have to limit his/her line of argument to relevant factors.
You Inflicted Injury on an Intimate Partner
The offense must also involve a specific subject, as described in the Penal Code. In this case, your victim needs to be a current or former intimate partner with whom you have shared a relationship. The prosecution should observe several guidelines when determining whether the victim was a close partnership based on the available information.
The following are the characteristics that the prosecutor will consider when proving your intimate relationship with the alleged victim:
Your Present or Former Fiance
If you were engaged to your victim, the relationship is considered intimate, primarily because of the previous or existing romantic relation. Hence, the prosecutor may ask the complainant to testify on the engagement date or the relationship’s nature that existed before the domestic battery.
Your Current or Former Spouse
Moreover, married or divorced couples will have had intimate relationships that place them within the Penal Code definition. Here, the existence of a marriage certificate divorce document is sufficient for the prosecutor to show that you lived with the person alleging corporal injury. As a result, you will be answerable to the allegations of inflicting harm.
A Boyfriend/Girlfriend in a Serious Relationship
Sometimes, you may have an existing serious relationship with a significant other, leading to cohabitation and domestic responsibilities. Therefore, you are responsible for any alleged harm caused to your partner despite the lack of a formal agreement to live in a domestic setting.
A Cohabitant or Registered Domestic Partner
In cases where the afflicted person was your roommate or any other registered domestic partner, the prosecution also needs to prove the existence of an intimate, domestic relationship. Since your criminal defense lawyer aims to reduce the consequences you may face from the criminal charges, he/she can contest the validity of an intimate relationship as presented by the prosecutor. If he/she is successful, the judge will consider adjusting the penalties and reducing them significantly for a beneficial turn of events.
Your Children’s Parent
When the victim is a former spouse or cohabitant with whom you share children, the court will also consider the relationship intimate. In this case, the prosecutor’s primary focus will be to show that the parental relationship is continuous, meaning that you are prone to contact the victim.
Factors Used to Establish Cohabitative Circumstances
Apart from proving that you harmed an intimate partner, it is also essential for the prosecutor to show a previous or ongoing cohabitation. The importance of establishing this element is to place the record of domestic abuse events to align with Penal Code provisions.
While the details that the prosecutor presents in court should come from valid investigations and testimonies, your defense lawyer should remain alert to the possibility of inaccurate information. As a result, we recommend working closely with your lawyer to provide correct information concerning the nature of your cohabitation with the victim. The main factors for the prosecutor to consider when determining cohabitation include:
- Checking for an existing sexual relationship between you and the victim
- Assessing the length and duration of your relationship
- Analyzing shared financial obligations that exist between you and the victim
- Identifying any joint ownership of property that would only apply to cohabitants
The Corporal Injury was Traumatic
Upon determining that your case falls within intimate/cohabitating circumstances, the prosecutor will have successfully proved your involvement in the crime. However, the final factor must also be evident to show that the injury caused was traumatic. Usually, a traumatic injury should inflict pain and visible bruising or damage to internal body structures. The cause of harm is an external force from your violent actions, leading to high-impact collisions.
In court, the prosecutor’s first factor to show is that the victim suffered the injury. Sources of proof will mostly come from medical reports, test results, and imaging to show the damage caused on an identified part of the victim’s body. Hence, you can expect the prosecutor to produce copies of the victim’s P3 forms from the doctor who attended the injuries. Common injuries that cause traumatic outcomes for the victims include:
- Bone fractures
- Joint sprains
- Soft tissue wounds
- Deep cuts
- Recurrent concussions
On top of this, the prosecutor may produce police statements recorded after allegedly inflicted harm on the aggrieved person. The police records will indicate the reporting time, the nature of injuries upon making preliminary examinations, and any other relevant details to the victim’s physical state.
The criminal trial proceedings must also include evidential proof to show that the victim’s injuries arose from a direct infliction of force. Since you will be the defendant in question, the prosecutor may ask you to give your version of events leading up to the crime. You need to remain alert to the prosecutor’s probes because his/her objective is to probe an admission of having inflicted harm to the victim.
Additionally, you should be ready to answer the different information presented in court to prove your direct infliction of harm. For example, suppose a witness is present to testify on your actions to hit the complaint. In that case, you will need supporting counter-arguments that question the claims to introduce alternative pointers to the matter.
Lastly, the prosecutor will be keen to show that the victim would not have suffered the traumatic injury, but for your violent actions. As a result, he/she may produce evidence like previous medical records that do not indicate any underlying conditions before you inflict a corporal injury.
You can also expect the prosecutor to invite a medical professional to offer opinion evidence that ascertains the victim’s previous healthy condition. While the information piled against you may be overwhelming, you do not have to worry about navigating the trial process alone. When your defense lawyer makes analysis and conducts thorough research on the available details, you will have a chance to combat the criminal allegations.
Defenses for the Crime of Corporal Injury
When the prosecutor presents the crime elements, your attorney will have a chance to make rebuttals, cross-examine, and present defenses on your behalf. The trial’s nature depends on your lawyer’s preparedness to cast doubt on the prosecutor’s presentations. Thus, you want to maintain a close working relationship with your legal team and provide important information that may be pivotal for a favorable outcome.
While several defenses are available for the offense, you need to note that your case facts may not align with each argument. Consequently, your lawyer will eliminate or adapt defenses accordingly, aiming to make the best presentations before the court. Some common defenses are:
You Acted in Self-Defense
Usually, you are free to use self-defense in adverse cases, especially if it is the final resort to keep yourself or others around your safe. Thus, the judge will accept self-defense as a justification for your actions, provided you satisfy the standard requirements set out to qualify it as a legal defense.
First, you must have had a reasonable apprehension of being in danger that you derived from the other person’s conduct or circumstances surrounding the case. For example, suppose the alleged victim used threatening words to indicate the intention of causing harm. In that case, you may have reasonably believed that he/she would strike you, leading to sudden retaliation in self-defense.
Also, you should prove that you used the force because you found it necessary under the circumstances. Here, the main point to prove will be that you did not have the opportunity to escape danger by running or shouting for help, leaving you to cause harm in defense.
The judge will require persuasive sources of proof that show the lack of alternative defense sources before admitting your lawyer’s argument. Subsequently, it helps to ensure that all your facts align and do not leave room for doubt.
Finally, the judge can only admit self-defense if you used force proportional to the impending danger. Therefore, any use of excessive force that exposed the complainant to severe injury will be unacceptable based on proportionality.
You Did Not Act Wilfully
Alternatively, you may argue that your actions were not willful, meaning that you did not premeditate on inflicting the corporal wound on the victim. To prove the lack of deliberate intention, you may provide alternative sources of information to demonstrate the occurrence of an accident or actions out of coercion. Sometimes, you may also benefit from merging this defense with others like intoxication, showing you did not have criminal intent when harming the victim.
Facing False Accusations
Cases involving false accusations on the defendant are also common, whereby the compliant may act out of malice or vengeance. The defense of false accusations may be useful for your matter if your lawyer presents sound arguments. The critical strategy to uphold is giving persuasive evidence that disproves the claims raised against you while bringing out your non-involvement in the crime.
Penalties for the Offense of Corporal Injury
If your defense is not convincing, the judge could find you guilty and sentence or punish you. Corporal injury offense is a wobbler crime and can, therefore, attract felony or misdemeanor charges.
The determinant factors for the type of charges and punishment you receive include:
- Involvement in past offenses
- The severity of harm you caused the victim
- The facts surrounding the case
If the judge orders misdemeanor penalties, you may face:
- A $6000 maximum fine
- One year in county jail or summary probation
On the other hand, a felony conviction leads to:
- Two to four years in state prison
- A $6000 maximum fine
- Possible formal probation
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
When facing criminal allegations, court processes can be stressful, especially if you are not well-acquainted with the law. You want to hire a lawyer to help with your corporal injury charges. Working with a criminal defense lawyer eases the burden, as they help you navigate the justice system.
At Foos Gavin Law Firm, we have skilled and well-experienced criminal lawyers serving clients facing corporal injury charges in Sacramento, California. We will provide solid legal support and represent you for a favorable outcome. To speak to a criminal defense lawyer, call us today at 916-779-3500.