Penal Code 273.5 PC: Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant

California Penal Code 273.5 makes it illegal to inflict a “corporal injury” resulting in a “traumatic condition” on a spouse. The legal system in the sate of California uses “Penal Code Section 273.5(a) Corporal Injury to a Spouse” to prosecute acts of physical violence against an intimate partner.

Understanding the technical definition of corporal injury to a spouse can be difficult without having an experienced Attorney next to you. At KN Law Firm, our attorneys can offer you information about PC 273.5(a), facts about possible penalties for this charge, and defenses against accusations of corporal injury to a spouse.

If you willfully inflict injury on a domestic partner, do not hesitate to give Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney Chris Nalchadjian a call on the number 888 950 0011 for a whole 30 minutes Free Consultation. We always recommend to consult with a Los Angeles Domestic Violence attorney immediately since those cases are very sensitive and can make you end up in serious legal troubles.

The Law of Corporal Injury in California

PC 273.5(a) is one of the many different charges used to deal with domestic violence cases in California. This charge can be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony carries a maximum of 3 years in prison and a misdemeanor carries a maximum of one year in the county jail.

The Language of California Penal Code Section 273.5, corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant states that:

(a) Any person who willfully inflicts a corporal injury that results in a traumatic condition upon a victim is guilty of a felony, and if convicted, 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 $6,000, or by both a and imprisonment. This shall apply if the victim is or was (1) the defendant’s spouse or former spouse (2) cohabitant or former cohabitant (3) fiancée or someone with whom the defendant has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship (4) the mother or father of the defendant’s child.

As we understand from the language of the code section, The criminal offense of corporal injury on a spouse can only be committed against someone with whom you have an intimate relationship like a current or former spouse, cohabitant, co-parent, or dating partner.

The term “willfully” means it was on purpose. A traumatic condition means injuries caused by physical force, such as broken bones, black eye, or internal bleeding. However, Corporal injury refers to any physical injury, whether serious or minor. Minor injuries, such as an abrasion, small cut, or even a sprained ankle could prove sufficient to secure a conviction.

This conviction, as we mentioned before, is a wobbler, meaning prosecutors can file the charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. The offense is commonly referred to as domestic violence, domestic abuse, spousal abuse or corporal injury to a spouse.

Offenses Related to Corporal Injury

Elements of Corporal Injury

In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to obtain a conviction under California Penal Code Section 273.5., they must be able to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, certain elements of the crime. These elements include:

  • You willfully and unlawfully inflicted a physical injury on another individual
  • The physical injury resulted in a traumatic condition
  • The individual you injured is your current or former intimate partner
  • Your actions were not in self defense or defense of another individual

If the alleged victim suffers a great bodily injury from the incident, the Los Angeles County prosecutor might allege an enhancement that would elevate the charge as a “strike” under California’s Three Strike laws.

Penalties of a Corporal Injury Conviction

According to California Penal Code Section 273.5, the crime of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant is a “wobbler” offense. This means the prosecutor has the discretion to charge it as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties for these charges may include the following:

Misdemeanor Corporal Injury to a Spouse:

  • Fines: Up to $6,000
  • Jail Time: Up to 1 Year

Felony Corporal Injury to a Spouse:

  • Fines: Up to $6,000
  • Prison Time: Up to 4 Years

Additionally, individuals can receive increased penalties if they commit PC 273.5(a) within seven years of a previous conviction for certain forms of assault or battery. Repeat convictions can lead to:

  • Jail Time: Up to 1 Year
  • Prison Time: Up to 5 Years
  • Fines: Up to $10,000

Consequences of a Corporal Injury Conviction

Restraining Order
Additionally, the legal consequences of a misdemeanor or felony conviction of corporal injury on a spouse will most likely include a restraining order or criminal protective order that will prohibit you from making any contact with the victim for up to 10 years.

Additional State Prison Time
If your corporal injury on a spouse was prosecuted as a felony case, and the victim sustained significant injuries, you could face a great bodily injury (significant injury) sentence enhancement leading to an additional 3-5 years in a California state prison.

Pay Victim Restitution
If you are convicted of domestic violence in Los Angeles, you might also be ordered to pay victim restitution under California Penal Code 1203.097, which is a mandatory requirement of probation.

Denial of Naturalization (citizenship)
Since Domestic Violence are considered crimes of moral turpitude, then most non-U.S. citizen who is convicted of these crimes will be subject to deportation, exclusion from admission or even denial of naturalization (citizenship).

Loss of Gun Rights
If you face a conviction for Corporal Injury as a felony, you risk losing your right to possess or purchase a firearm. Also keep in mind that under AB 3129, effective January 1, 2019, the loss of gun rights will be a lifetime prohibition regardless of whether the conviction is for a felony or a misdemeanor conviction.

Difficulty Acquiring and Retaining a Job
In addition, corporal injury on a spouse is known as a crime of moral turpitude, meaning a conviction could impact you ability to obtain certain professional licenses. Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm for more information.

Increased Penalties
Furthermore, your penalties will increase if you have recent prior domestic violence or assault related convictions. These prior convictions include offenses, within the past 7 years, of battery, aggravated battery, assault with a deadly weapon, sexual battery, or any great bodily injury sentence enhancement.

Defenses Strategies Against Corporal Injury

An experienced California criminal defense attorneys have a variety of strategies to get Penal Code 273.5 charges dismissed or reduced. While every case is unique, some common legal defenses that might be argued include:

Your criminal attorney may be able to prove you had a reasonable belief that you or another person was in imminent danger from suffering a bodily injury. Therefore, you reasonably believed you had to immediately use force to defend yourself and you used no more force than necessary. Documenting any cuts, injuries or bruises you received during the fight could be critical evidence on your behalf. You have the legal right to defend yourself.

False Allegations
California law enforcement takes allegations of domestic violence seriously. As a result, people are often wrongly arrested based upon false allegations. The allegations may be initiated out of anger, jealousy, or a desire for revenge. An experienced California domestic violence defense Attorney can help fight such baseless allegations by:

  • Obtaining access to the accuser’s social media accounts, emails, and text messages
  • Conducting interviews with the accuser, as well as with his or her family, friends, coworkers, and online contacts,
  • A complete background investigation of the accuser and any potential witnesses.

Accidental Injuries
You can’t be convicted of corporal injury on a spouse unless the prosecutor can prove you willfully injured the victim. Our lawyers may be able to present evidence proving the injury was an accident. It’ not uncommon for unintentional injuries to occur during a heated argument, especially if any intoxication was involved.

Lack of Willfulness
A defendant is guilty under Penal Code 273.5 PC corporal injury to a spouse only if he or she willfully injured the victim. This means that an accidental injury, even one that occurs during a heated argument, most of the times is not enough.

A defendant in this situation may be able to get the prosecutor to dismiss the case. Or the defendant’s attorney might get it reduced to a less serious offense, such as Penal Code 243(e)(1) domestic battery.

Legal Advice and Free Consultation

If you willfully inflict injury on a domestic partner, you risk facing an arrest and charges for corporal injury on a spouse. Individuals charged under California Penal Code Section 273.5(a): Corporal Injury to Spouse can end up in serious legal trouble. At KN Law Firm APLC, we understands the challenges associated with beating a charge of PC 273.5(a). Contact Los Angeles Domestic Attorney Chris Nalchadjian for a FREE consultation today to learn more about this charge and possible defense.

You can call our office on the number 888 950 0011, or complete our online contact form and we will reach out to you as soon as possible. Protect your rights and freedom today by speaking with criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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