Inflicting a corporal injury on your spouse is a serious offense, resulting in lengthy prison time and a hefty court fine. The law under PC 273.5 prohibits seriously injuring an intimate partner, whether a spouse, parent, roommate or any other person closely related to you. The offense falls under the general umbrella of domestic violence since it involves battery against someone related to or close to you.

If you face charges for inflicting corporal injury on your spouse, it helps to have a solid defense to avoid a conviction and its severe consequences. A skilled criminal attorney can help you navigate the legal process, understand your rights and options, and fight your charges. You could compel the judge to reduce or dismiss your charges with their help.

The Legal Meaning of Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse

Domestic violence laws prohibit harming close family members or people you live with. It is a general law covering several other laws against various acts people commit against their loved ones. Inflicting a corporal injury on an intimate partner or spouse is one such law. It prohibits injuring someone closely related to you or someone in your family. The law seeks to protect the following people against assault or battery by people in their family:

  • Former or current spouses.
  • Former or current cohabitants.
  • People who are engaged to be married.
  • Former or current dating partners.
  • Fellow parents of the same child or children.

The law specifically prohibits the infliction of a corporate injury on an intimate partner. The prosecutor will file charges under this statute only if your intimate partner suffered a traumatic condition due to your actions. A traumatic condition can be any serious physical injury resulting from an unlawful touch, including the following.

  • A serious scratch.
  • Bruises.
  • Strangulation marks.
  • Suffocation.
  • Physical marks.

If the alleged victim suffers a great bodily injury, the offense is a straight felony. The judge can enhance your felony sentence with three to five years to serve consecutively with the underlying sentence.

What The Prosecutor Must Prove

After the prosecutor files charges against you under PC 273.3, they must demonstrate your offenses for the jury to deliver a guilty verdict. These elements include:

  • That you unlawfully and willfully inflicted a bodily injury upon a person related to you.
  • The person was an intimate partner or close family member.
  • Your actions caused the victim to suffer a traumatic condition.
  • You were not acting in self-defense at the time.

Let us look at some of these elements in detail to understand them better:

A Willful Action

PC 273.5 requires you to have acted willfully or intentionally. Your actions should not be accidental. However, acting willfully does not mean that you intend to harm the victim, violate the law, or gain an advantage over them.

Example: Lately, Martha and Jason have been arguing about money. They do not seem to agree on anything. Last night, the disagreement was so intense that Martha pushed Jason down the stairs. Luckily, Jason only suffered a few bruises.

Even though Martha’s intention was not to break the law or hurt Jason, her actions caused him a physical injury. Thus, Martha is guilty of inflicting a corporate injury on her husband.

A Traumatic Condition

A corporate injury is a physical injury that results in a traumatic condition. A traumatic condition refers to a wound or physical injury that occurs after the direct use of violence or force. It could be minor or severe. For example, the prosecutor will file charges if your intimate partner sustains a concussion, sprain, bruise, broken bone, or a severe injury such as internal bleeding and organ damage.

Note: The prosecutor must demonstrate that the traumatic conditions are a result of the direct use of violence or physical force. They must connect your actions to the traumatic condition. Traumatic conditions are believed to be a direct result of a physical injury if they satisfy the following conditions:

  • If they are natural and a possible result of an injury.
  • If an injury was a substantial and direct cause of a traumatic condition.
  • If the condition will not have occurred without a physical injury.

Example: Jimmy tries to slap his little brother, Ted, in the heat of an argument, but he misses. But while Ted is moving away from his brother, he slips and falls on a table, fracturing his arm.

While Jimmy is guilty of attempting to assault his brother, he is not liable for inflicting a corporate injury (fractured arm) on Ted. Ted’s traumatic conditions occurred while he was moving away from his brother, not as a direct result of his brother’s actions.

Intimate Partner

PC 273.5(a) prohibits inflicting a corporate injury on a spouse or intimate partner. This law uses the name ‘spouse' or ‘intimate partner’ to refer to anyone closely related to or connected to you. Thus, an intimate partner can be any of the following:

  • Your husband or wife.
  • Your registered former or current domestic partner.
  • A live-in girlfriend or boyfriend.
  • Someone you are engaged to marry.
  • The other parent of your child.
  • The person you are seriously dating.

If you are living together or cohabiting with the alleged victim, here are some of the factors that will enable the prosecutor to prove that they are your intimate partner:

  • You live in the same home and have sexual relations.
  • You share expenses and income.
  • You jointly own or use properties.
  • You portray your relationship as being serious.
  • You have been together for a considerable period.

Note: It is possible to cohabit with two or more people at a particular period.

Possible Penalties for Inflicting a Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner

PC 273.5 is a wobbler offense. It means that the prosecutor can bring felony or misdemeanor charges against you. The prosecutor’s decision will be based on your criminal background and the details of your case.

A misdemeanor charge will likely result in the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor probation.
  • A one-year jail term.
  • $6,000 in court fines.

The judge will file felony charges under the following circumstances:

  • The alleged victim suffered severe injuries.
  • You have a prior record of domestic violence or aggression.

A felony charge can result in the following penalties:

  • Felony probation.
  • Two, three, or four years in prison.
  • $6,000 in court fines.

The prosecutor will treat your case as a wobbler even when you have a previous conviction on your record for the same or a similar offense involving assault or domestic violence. But the judge can enhance your felony sentence if you have a prior conviction for any of the following offenses within seven years:

  • Inflicting a corporal injury on your spouse.
  • Assaulting or battering another person with a dangerous chemical.
  • Assaulting or battering another until they suffer a serious bodily injury.
  • Assaulting another person using a stun gun.
  • Using a deadly or dangerous weapon to commit assault.
  • Battering an intimate partner.
  • Committing sexual battery.

If the alleged victim suffers a great bodily injury, you are subject to a sentence enhancement under PC 12022.7. Under this statute, a great bodily injury refers to any significant bodily injury. The judge could enhance your prison sentence by three, four, or five years. You must serve the enhanced sentence consecutively with the sentence for the underlying offense.

Other Consequences of a Conviction under PC 273.5

A conviction for inflicting a corporate injury on an intimate partner is profound. Hence, it comes with severe consequences that could affect various aspects of your life. Some of these consequences include the following:

  • It could affect your immigration situation if you are an immigrant.
  • It can affect your professional or occupational license.
  • You will no longer be eligible to possess or own a firearm for the rest of your life.
  • The judge could order you to undergo a counseling course for domestic violence or anger management for 52 weeks.
  • The judge could also issue a restraining or protective order against you, prohibiting you from coming anywhere near the victim or anyone else related to the victim.

Fighting Your Charges under PC 253.5

A solid defense is the only way you can avoid these and many other harsh consequences of a conviction for inflicting corporal injury on your spouse. Fortunately, a skilled criminal defense attorney can use some of the best available defense strategies to fight your charges, weaken the prosecutor’s case, and obtain a favorable outcome for your case. Here are some of the defense strategies that could apply in your situation:

Your Actions Were in Self-Defense

If you believe that you or another person is in imminent danger of physical harm, you can use reasonable force or violence to keep yourself or them safe. Self-defense is acceptable in this case, but only if you can demonstrate that you need to use force or violence to stay safe or to keep another person safe.

Your attorney must verify the kind of danger you faced at the time. They must also demonstrate that you only used reasonable force under the circumstances to stay safe. If you use more force than necessary, this defense will not work. But the judge will dismiss your charges if the defense convinces them it was self-defense.

You Did Not Act Willfully

Remember that a willful act is a crucial element of this offense, whereby you must have acted willfully or deliberately to inflict a corporal injury on the victim to be guilty. However, that will not be the case if your actions were accidental rather than willful. Accidents are common, whereby one person injures another or sustains an injury accidentally. If your attorney can demonstrate that, the judge will dismiss your case.

For example, you will not be liable for your husband's injury if you accidentally hit them with an object or push them down the stairs. An intelligent criminal attorney will present your defense in the best possible way to convince the court to drop your charges.

You Are Falsely Accused

False accusations are common in domestic situations. If people in an intimate relationship disagree, one or both can accuse the other of violence for revenge and sometimes out of jealousy. The criminal justice system has seen such cases, so it will not surprise the court if your attorney states that you are being falsely accused. However, they must provide compelling evidence and arguments for the judge to drop your charges.

If you were not near the alleged victim at the time of the crime, your attorney can use that to demonstrate your innocence. Alternatively, an eyewitness account can help the court understand your relationship with the alleged victim.

The Alleged Victim’s Credibility

The victim, eyewitnesses, and anyone else whose testimony is used in criminal cases must be credible for the court to accept their testimony as accurate. A skilled attorney will question the victim’s credibility if they believe the victim is lodging false accusations or exaggerating facts about the case. For example, suppose the victim has a history of accusing their intimate partners of domestic violence or is generally a violent person. In that case, your attorney can use facts like those to build a solid defense for you.

A witness’ testimony must corroborate any evidence the prosecutor has against a defendant. If not, the jury cannot use their testimony to deliver a verdict.

Find an Experienced Criminal Attorney Near Me

Do you or someone you know face charges for inflicting a corporal injury on an intimate partner in Sacramento?

This severe charge can impact your life in many ways, especially if you are convicted. That is why you must start working on your case immediately after arrest to change its outcome. Hiring the best criminal defense attorney is the first step.

Our defense attorneys at Foos Gavin Law Firm will streamline the legal process to make it manageable. We will study your case and advise you on your options and the best fighting strategies. We will also protect your rights and support you through the challenging legal process until you are satisfied with the outcome of your case. Call us at 916-779-3500 to discuss your case and our services more.