When Charged with Corporal Injury, You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing charges of corporal injury in California means you are looking at serious jail time and a criminal record that will affect the rest of your life. You need to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately to ensure your rights and freedom are protected.
There is a mandatory arrest involved with domestic violence in the state of California. This mandatory arrest means if the officers at the scene believe there is probable cause, it is their discretion whether to arrest you or not. If you find yourself in this situation, your best course of action is not to speak. You will not be able to talk you way out of an arrest and will only make your case stronger for the prosecution. The only statement you should make is to request the presence of your attorney.
An experienced criminal defense attorney understands California law and will know how to examine all the circumstances involved in your case to reduce or possibly dismiss the charges. There are ways to help you fight alleged corporal injury charges and show the court your case does not contain all elements required to convict you under California Penal Code 273.5.
Corporal Injury Defined Under Penal Code 273.5
In order for you to be convicted of corporal injury under California Penal Code 273.5 there are elements your case must present. You must have willfully inflicted harm to your spouse, cohabitant, former spouse, or former cohabitant. An injury inflicted to the father or mother of a child is also covered under this penal code, and damages must have resulted in a traumatic condition.
If you are found guilty of inflicting these injuries, the case could result in a felony conviction. The potential punishment of a felony conviction means:
- You will be imprisoned for a term of two, three or four years in a state prison
- You could be facing up to one year in a county jail
- You could be fined up to six thousand dollars
- You could face both time in jail and a fine
For you to be found guilty of these charges, the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Acted in a willful manner to inflict the injuries
- Injuries were inflicted on your ex-spouse, spouse, or the parent of your child
- Caused injuries that have been defined as 'traumatic'
- Were not acting in self-defense of yourself or others
Criminal charges have different consequences in the California court system, and you will want a knowledgeable attorney working with you to receive the best defense. All cases are unique, and your attorney will work with you to present all the facts and circumstances, so you receive a fair judgment.
Legal Explanation of Corporal Injury
Under the California Penal Code 273.5, a corporal injury is considered a general intent crime. This intent was to make physical contact or hit another person. Several elements must be proved in order for the prosecution to convict one of corporal injury.
The first element to prove a corporal injury crime occurred is to show you willfully, and with purpose committed the act. A direct and physical contact must have happened to satisfy this element under the law.
The injury must be the result of a direct strike, hit or another physical impact to another. Should a person become injured while attempting to escape another, does not satisfy the element necessary for a corporal injury conviction as no direct application of force occurred.
An example of this situation would be if you were in an altercation with your partner which had become quite heated. During the incident, you pushed your partner in frustration but didn't cause harm. If your partner then turns from you and begins walking away but falls or trips which ends up in bruises or cuts, it is not your fault. The result of the injuries is because they fell or tripped while walking away, not because you pushed them.
The second element which must be established is that the two parties involved are cohabitants. This element defines two people living in the same home who are in a stable relationship. The relationship must be intended as long-term and in a manner similar to that of a married couple. This relationship is determined by these conditions:
- The parties are sharing financial responsibilities
- There has been a consummation of the relationship while living in the same residence
- The parties share ownership of the residence
- Statements have been made indicating the two are in a married type relationship or that they consider themselves to be domestic partners
There are other conditions which can exist for two people to be considered cohabitants under the corporal injury conviction:
- If a person is living in two separate households and is in a relationship with cohabitants of each residence and is maintaining a continuous residence in each of the homes
- A relationship is also considered when both parties share the parenting of a child. It also applies even if the parent has lost parental rights after a child is born. This situation is only valid after the birth and not during pregnancy
The third element which must exist for a corporal injury conviction is that the injuries sustained are defined as traumatic. Traumatic is considered an injury or wound to the cohabitant involved, including internal injuries that resulted from the force. This force can also include traces of attempting to suffocate or strangle the victim. The term 'traumatic condition' does not mean injury cannot be minor, it is defined as:
- A probable and natural injury occurred when force was applied by direct, physical contact, and that the party inflicting said injury knew the consequences of the strike or action
- The injury would not exist if direct, physical contact had not happened
- The intentional infliction of force resulted in a broken nose, a concussion, bruise, sprain, internal bleeding or injuries caused by attempted strangulation or suffocation
If these elements exist and you are charged under California PC 273.5, you could also face additional charges:
- Attempted infliction of corporal injury on a spouse
- Misdemeanor battery charges
- Simple assault
You will need the help of an experienced attorney to look at your case and built the best defense possible. These charges are serious under California law and will follow you the rest of your life if allowed to become part of your criminal record. Protect your ability to find suitable employment, housing and your rights with the best criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, CA.
Defenses Against Corporal Injury Charges
There are several different routes your defense attorney can take to help you with corporal injury (domestic violence) charges:
- Accidental- Arguments between partners can become heated and result in actions that were not intentional. You may have made contact with your partner in a physical matter that resulted in an injury, but you did not do so willfully. This contact was not intentional, and you did not set out to cause harm. It is not a crime when an injury occurs when you accidentally touched your partner during a heated argument.
- Self Defense- Domestic violence can be a two-way street. Your partner could have become threatening, and you felt your only means of defense was to strike. If this is the case, your attorney can show you were protecting yourself, or another from harm. There are situations during a domestic incident where the alleged victim began the altercation, and the charged has had to physically restrain the victim in order to prevent injury to themselves. A self-defense plea could be entered by your attorney to fight corporal injury charges in this type of case.
- California self-defense laws protect you from being found guilty when it is proven you've had to defend yourself. Your legal defense would show you reasonably believed you were in danger of being seriously harmed or killed and you had to use force to protect yourself. The "stand your ground laws" in California state you are under no obligation to try and escape or run if you are able to protect yourself during an attack.
- Accusations are False- If the relationship between you and your partner has deteriorated enough; they might make false allegations against you as a means of punishment. They may allege that you've committed an act of violence against them in hopes of getting the upper hand in other legal matters such as the divorce proceedings. Corporal injury or domestic violence charges will significantly hinder your case during divorce proceedings or child custody issues. Your defense attorney will prove to the court there are ulterior motives to the victim's charge to prevent you from becoming convicted in this case.
Possible Penalties if Convicted of Corporal Injury
Under the California Penal Code 273.5, a corporal injury on a spouse is considered a Wobbler Offense. This charge means the crime you are charged with can fall under a misdemeanor or felony conviction depending on the nature of the act. Determining how your case will be either a felony or misdemeanor depends on the specific facts presented, how severe the injuries are that were inflicted, and if you have a previous criminal history.
Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately if you are facing charges of corporal injury as you will want a proactive approach in your defense. An experienced attorney will know how to aggressively fight these charges to have them either reduced or dismissed.
If you are convicted of corporal injury as a misdemeanor, you could be facing up to a year of jail time in a county facility. This sentence could also include a fine of up to $6,000. Along with the conviction, there are additional punishments that can be imposed:
Restitution or compensation of the victim's injuries or counseling if determined it is required. The victim may also request reimbursement for other issues resulting from the act
52-Weeks of counseling is required under California law if you are found guilty of corporal injury. This counseling is a program for batterer's, and you may also be required to perform some type of community service
A protective order may be placed on you to prevent any contact with the victim. This order can be enforced for up to ten years
If you are found guilty of corporal injury and convicted as a felony act, your punishment will be much harsher than if charged as a misdemeanor. This conviction could mean a two, three, or four year sentence in a state prison along with fines up to $6,000. If the courts find you have a previous criminal record including, sexual battery, battery or another form of aggravated assault, your sentence can be extended to five years in state prison.
If your victim has suffered serious injury, you could face additional punishment. Great bodily harm inflicted on a victim increases the prison time with an additional three, four, or five years added to original sentencing.
The court has options with your sentencing if convicted of corporal injury on a spouse and it falls under a felony conviction. The punishment will be determined by the specific circumstances involving your case and guided by the California Rules of Court (CRC). The three main rules they will consider for sentencing are CRC 4.414, 4.421, and 4.423. These are the criteria used by the courts to decide if you are eligible for probation or should be sentenced.
The criminal justice system in California is complex, and you need an attorney familiar with the courts, laws, and rules that will impact your case. Contact your defense attorney as soon as possible to receive the best possible outcome.
Conviction of Corporal Injury Effects Immigration Status
Under California PC 273.5 it is considered this violation is a crime of moral turpitude, in other words, one showing moral corruption or wickedness. If you are found guilty and convicted of corporal injury, you can lose your right to re-enter the country once you leave. You could also lose your ability to become a U.S. citizen and be denied the right to apply for a green card.
These loses could seriously impact your future and the future of your family. You will need a criminal defense attorney working with you to protect your rights and freedom.
Probation Versus Jail Time
The courts can impose a sentence of probation to you if found guilty rather than sending you to jail. This determination will be gained by following the California Rules of Court and other factors specific to your charges. Probation will allow you to live in your own home where you can continue to go to school or work.
There are rules you will be forced to follow while under probation. If you fail to follow the conditions set up under your probation, you will face the maximum sentence allowed for the crime. Some of the terms you may be asked to comply with are:
- Donating up to $5,000 to a battered women's shelter
- Compensating or paying restitution to the victim
- Completing a set number of hours performing community service acts
- Complete a 52-week batterer's program
- Report to your probation officer as specified in court terms
- Do not commit any further misdemeanor or felony offenses
- Refrain from having contact with the victim
The court will determine the length of your probation at sentencing. If charged as a misdemeanor, your probation could last up to three years. Felony convictions with a probation sentence could last up to five years. A felony conviction usually includes a one-year jail sentence which is then followed with up to five years of probation.
If you fail to comply with all the terms set up for your probation, you will have to attend a probation violation hearing where the judge can impose the maximum sentence for your crime.
Leah Legal Criminal Defense is your best defense when facing charges of corporal injury. She is an aggressive and experienced attorney who will represent you whether charged with a minor misdemeanor or a felony. Her bar associations include California Bar, American Bar, Los Angeles County Bar, San Fernando Valley Bar, Criminal Courts Bar and Private Defenders of California, so you can rest assured she has the knowledge and experience to provide you the best defense possible.
The defense team at Leah Legal understand how the nature of relationships can sometimes become difficult. We are also familiar with situations that have gotten out of control and can threaten a person's future.
If you or a loved one find yourself behind bars due to a domestic violence incident, contact our Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer immediately at 818-484-1100. You can also contact us with any questions you may have regarding a legal situation through our contact form and schedule an appointment to make sure your constitutional rights are protected.