Domestic abuse in California can take many different shapes and forms. Sometimes abuse is verbal, and other times it is emotional. Domestic abuse involving physical violence is perhaps the most serious of all. When you’re accused of domestic violence in Los Angeles the state will carefully investigate the claim. If there is any evidence that you’ve seriously injured a spouse or cohabitant, you will probably be charged with inflicting corporal injury on a spouse.
You need to speak with an attorney immediately if you are facing criminal charges for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse. This is a felony in California that carries incredibly harsh penalties. The state has the burden of proving that you are guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A prosecutor’s job will become much more difficult when you hire an experienced Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney to handle your case. Contact the Rodriguez Law Group to schedule a free consultation today.
Inflicting Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant
Inflicting corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant is the most common domestic violence charge in California. You can be charged with this crime, as defined in Penal Code 273.5 PC, if you “willfully inflict corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” on a spouse or cohabitant.
What is “willful” behavior? What exactly is a corporal injury? Who qualifies as a spouse or cohabitant? When is a condition “traumatic” for the purposes of 273.5 PC? The answers to the questions are crucial if you’ve been accused of domestic violence.
Willfully Inflict Injury
You can only violate 273.5 PC if you willfully inflict corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. Willful behavior means that you engage in conduct knowingly and purposely. It’s important to understand that willful behavior does not necessarily mean that you have to intend to harm another person. You must simply intend to carry out a specific action.
Example: Joe throws a broken bottle at his wife Jill. He only intends to throw the bottle in her direction but manages to hit her directly. Joe acted willfully because he purposely threw the bottle. The fact that he didn’t mean to hit his wife is irrelevant.
The phrase “corporal injury” is used in 273.5 PC to distinguish this crime from domestic battery. Corporal injury requires the victim to suffer a physical injury of some sort. Domestic battery, on the other hand, does not. A battery simply requires an offensive or harmful touching. The victim can be injured in a battery, but it is not a hard-and-fast requirement for the crime.
A traumatic condition is defined in 273.5(d) PC to mean “ a condition of the body, such as a wound, or external or internal injury, including, but not limited to, injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by a physical force.” Simply put, a traumatic condition can include any injury to a victim that is caused by violence. Examples can include broken bones, bruising, internal bleeding, asphyxiation, brain damage, or even paralysis.
Spouse or Cohabitant
Penal Code 273.5 PC deals specifically with the infliction of corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant. This means that the crime can only be charged if the victim is classified as a “spouse” or “cohabitant” under 273.5(b) PC. This includes:
- Your spouse or former spouse
- Your fiancé or former fiancé
- Someone with whom you have had a dating or engagement relationship
- The mother or father of your child, or
- Your cohabitant or former cohabitant.
What is a cohabitant? A cohabitant, for the purposes of 275.3 PC, means “two unrelated persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of the relationship.” Cohabitation may be evident if you and another person share income and expenses, are involved in a long-term romantic relationship, have sex while sharing the same space, or own property together.
Penalties for Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse
Inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The charge will ultimately depend on any mitigating and aggravating factors that may be relevant to your case. Your criminal record and the seriousness of injuries suffered by the victim will likely be the two most important factors in your case.
As a misdemeanor, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse is punishable by a maximum of:
- 12 months in a Los Angeles County Jail;
- $6,000 in fines; and/or
As a felony, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse is punishable by:
- 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison;
- $6,000 in fines; and/or
Aggravated Penalties for Habitual Offenders
You will face aggravated penalties under 273.5 PC if you have been convicted of other violent crimes within the past 7 years.
You can face up to 4 years in prison and $10,000 in fines if you, within the past 7 years, have been convicted of battery on a spouse.
You can face up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines if you, within the past 7 years, have been convicted of:
- Corporal injury on a spouse
- Assault with a deadly weapon, caustic chemical, or stun gun
- Assault or battery resulting in serious bodily harm, or
- Sexual battery.
In addition to facing expensive fines, probation, and the possibility of a long time behind bars, you can also face other non-criminal consequences. These are social and civil penalties that can be imposed because you have a domestic violence conviction. Consequences can include:
- The permanent loss of the right to own a firearm
- Revocation of professional licenses
- Domestic violence restraining order, and
- Adverse child custody and support decisions.
You can minimize the risk of these (and other) penalties by simply defending yourself against the criminal charges.
Defenses for Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse
Remember, the state has to prove that you are guilty of physically injuring your spouse or cohabitant beyond a reasonable doubt. Any defense you offer can make the prosecutor’s job more difficult. The defenses you offer should help to explain, excuse, or justify your alleged behavior.
Defenses can include:
- You’ve been falsely accused
- You’ve been mistakenly identified
- The victim was not a spouse or cohabitant
- The victim did not suffer a traumatic condition
- You were acting in self-defense
- You did not act willfully
- It was an accident, or
- You were forced to inflict harm by a third party.
The best defense will be led by an attorney with experience handling these complex cases. Contact the Rodriguez Law Group to learn about how our skilled legal team and help you get the best possible result from your criminal case.
Los Angeles Corporal Injury to a Spouse Defense Attorneys
Have you been accused of physically hurting your spouse or someone who lives with you? Contact the Rodriguez Law Group for immediate legal assistance. We understand how devastating allegations of domestic violence can be for you and your family. Our Los Angeles domestic violence defense lawyers are here to help you defend yourself and fight to protect your future. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.