A conviction for Corporal Injury may add vast consequences to your life. When you are prosecuted, you risk losing your job, missing out on future job opportunities, and losing your professional license. Additionally, you can spend considerable time in jail, pay fines, and ordered to do community work. To avoid or reduce the effect of your charges for corporal injury, you should contact the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer to assist with your case.
What are the Elements of Corporal Injury
Corporal injury is the willful or intentional infliction of injury on a person with the result of a minor or traumatic injury to the victim. Depending on the victim, corporal injury can be prosecuted either as a corporal injury on a child or corporal injury on a spouse.
The prosecution has to prove that elements of corporal injury exist for you to be charged. These elements are:
- Wilful infliction of injury - willfulness means intentional acts with or without the intention to commit a crime. This includes doing something that you know has the potential of injuring the victim, even if you did not intend to cause injury.
- Traumatic condition: for corporal injury, the traumatic condition refers to any minor or serious injury resulting from the direct application of physical force. Some of the traumatic conditions in corporal injury include bruises, concussions, broken bones, internal injuries, sprains, and bruises. As part of this element, the prosecution must prove that the injury is the direct, reasonable cause, or consequence of the injury. For example, if Jane is running from her partner who just slapped her, then she sprains her ankle, the injury is not a direct result of the slapping. Therefore, her partner is not guilty of corporal injury.
- The victim is an intimate partner: under corporal injury, an intimate partner is:
- A current or former spouse
- A registered domestic partner
- A cohabitant (live-in partner)
- A parent of your child
- A person with whom you are in a serious dating relationship
- A fiancé or fiancée
When charged with corporal injury on a child (a person below 18 years), it is referred to as child abuse. The law of California defines corporal injury on a child as the willful infliction of inhuman corporal punishment on a minor resulting in a traumatic condition. Some of the elements of child abuse include:
- The act of corporal punishment was wilful/intentional
- The child suffered an injury (or traumatic condition) as a direct result of the corporal punishment
- You were not reasonably disciplining the child
Corporal Injury on a Spouse PC 273.5
Corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant is the crime of inflicting a physical injury to a person with whom you previously or are currently in an intimate relationship with. This includes a parent, former spouse, or cohabitant. PC 273.5 is also known as domestic violence and seeks to protect spouses or cohabitants (same-sex or not) from violent partners.
The law makes a distinction between roommates and cohabitants. Under PC 273.5 a cohabitant:
- Shares the same residence as the defendant
- The victim and defendant had sexual relations at the time of cohabiting
- The property is owned jointly by the defendant and plaintiff
- The parties share living expenses
- The length of the relationship
- The continuity of the relationship
Punishment and Penalties Under PC 273.5
Corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant is a wobbler offense (can be punished as a misdemeanor or felony). The charge depends on:
- The circumstances of the case
- The criminal history of the defendant including previous charges for domestic violence
For a misdemeanor conviction, the penalties include:
- A maximum jail term of one year in county jail and/or
- A fine of not more than $6,000
Instead of a jail term, you can get summary probation of between one and three years. You must fulfill the given conditions during the probation period, such as:
- Pay a fine and victim restitution
- Attending a one-year domestic violence class
- Completing community service
- A payment of up to $5,000 to a battered women's shelter
The corporal injury conviction becomes a felony if you are a repeat offender and/or the victim suffered great bodily harm. When convicted of a felony under PC 273.5, you can spend 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison, pay a fine of not more than $6,000. If you have been convicted for another crime such as corporal injury on a spouse, assault, battery, or sexual battery in the last seven years, the judge may increase the penalties for a felony conviction. The added punishment includes spending additional time in state prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
The court may decide to give formal probation as an alternative punishment.
Where the victim suffered great bodily harm, you may get an additional and consecutive term of 3, 4, or 5 years in state prison.
Being convicted with a PC 273.5 violation can affect you greatly if you are an immigrant. Some of the consequences include losing the ability to become a legal immigrant, apply for a green card, or re-enter the country after leaving. Also, you can never become a US citizen.
Corporal Injury on a Child PC 273d
California law under PC 273d prohibits the willful infliction of unreasonable physical punishment on a child. You can be charged with child abuse for violating PC 273d by hitting, punching, shaking, choking, burning, or throwing an item at a child, which causes physical injury or is cruel.
The prosecution has to prove that you acted willfully, and any reasonable person should have known that the act would inflict injury on the minor.
Corporal punishment by the child's parent is legal in California as long as it is reasonable. What is reasonable remains a grey area, and is often left to the interpretation of the jury. The punishment, however, should not leave marks or injury.
California laws also require some professionals such as doctors and teachers to report suspicions of child abuse to the authorities - meaning you can face charges for child abuse even when the injury is from another source.
California law allows the use of previous convictions or charges for child abuse, to be used as evidence for the present charge. The court must first hold a hearing to determine whether the prior charge or convictions happened within the past ten years, and is in the best interest of justice.
Prior charges of domestic violence can be used if they were committed within the last five years and shows the defendant tends towards violence.
When found guilty of a misdemeanor PC 273d violation, you will face the penalties such as:
- A maximum of one year in county jail and/or
- A fine of up to $6,000
Most minor and first PC 273d violations are charged as misdemeanors. The circumstances of the crime, prior history of child abuse or domestic violence, and the severity of the injury, can aggravate the crime to a felony.
Penalties for a PC 273d felony violation include:
- A jail term of 2, 4 or 6 years and/or
- a maximum fine of $6,000
- Formal probation for a minimum of three years
Conditions One Should Meet When Placed On Probation
The judge can give probation as the alternative sentencing for a misdemeanor or felony PC 273d. The conditions include:
- Reporting to a probation officer
- Complying with the court's protective order for the victim
- Comply with random drug tests if the defendant's action was a result of alcohol or drug use
- Attend a one-year child abuser's program for counseling
When you comply with the terms of the probation for at least two years, you can request for early termination of probation, reduction of a charge to a misdemeanor and the expungement of a criminal record.
Legal Defenses For Corporal Injury Charges
The outcome of your criminal charges depends on the ability of your lawyer to build a strong defense. Most domestic violence and child abuse charges have almost similar defenses. Some include:
- False Allegations
The defendant could be a victim of false allegations arising from hatred, revenge, and malice. In other cases, the defendant may be on the receiving end when the caretaker of the child wants to cover their abuse. Your lawyer should be in a position to gather relevant evidence to prove your innocence.
- The Injury Was Not From Abuse
Your partner or child could have sustained an injury, which is unrelated to the physical act for which you are being charged. In the case of PC 273d charges, you could be charged due to a report from a mandatory reporter, who believes the injury on the child is a result of physical abuse.
- You Were Reasonably Disciplining the Child
California laws allow parents to discipline their children using their preferred means as long as it is reasonable and humane.
- The Injury Resulted From An Accident
Sometimes, your child or intimate partner can suffer injury accidentally. For instance, during an argument, your spouse may get hurt accidentally. Your lawyer should be in a position to prove that the injury was an accident.
- The Defendant was Acting In Self-Defense or in Defense of Others
The defense applies to those charged with a PC 273.5 violation. The defendant must prove that they believed they were in danger and that the act was necessary to protect themselves and others from danger. Also, the defendant has to prove that they did not use more force than was necessary.
- Child Endangerment
Child endangerment involves exposing a child to situations or persons who are likely to cause injury to the child. For instance, when you leave a child with a person who has a known history of violence, and they hurt the child, the offender will be charged with a PC 273d violation, and you might be charged with child endangerment.
Child endangerment is a wobbler offense with similar sentencing as child abuse. Child endangerment might be charged alongside corporal injury on a spouse if the defendant's actions exposed the child to danger. If the act poses a risk for great bodily injury, the charge will be a felony.
- Elder Abuse
When you inflict corporal injury to an intimate partner who is aged 65 or older, you can be charged with elder abuse. Elder abuse is charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, with additional penalties where the defendant is at least 70 years.
For a misdemeanor charge, you can be sentenced to six months in county jail, a fine of a maximum of $1,000 or both. A felony conviction attracts a sentence or 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison or a fine of not more than $6,000.
- Domestic Battery
Domestic battery is the willful or unlawful touching of a current or former intimate partner, which is unwanted or offensive. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor offense which is punishable by:
- A jail term not exceeding one year in county jail
- A fine of up to $2,000
- Attend a 52-week batterer's intervention program
- Disturbing the Peace
Disturbing the peace is the crime of:
- willfully and unlawfully fighting or challenging a person to a fight in a public area
- Willfully and maliciously causing loud noise that disturbs another person, and
- The use of offensive words that can provoke violence in a public place
Disturbing the peace is charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction. Some lawyers may use disturbing the peace as a plea bargain to reduce the charges you are facing.
When charged with an infraction, you will pay a fine not exceeding $250.
When charged as a misdemeanor, you can face penalties like informal probation, a fine of a maximum of $400 and/or a maximum of 90 days in county jail.
- Child Neglect
Child neglect is the crime of willfully denying your minor child the necessities, including food, medical care, shelter, and clothing.
Child neglect is usually charged as a misdemeanor. A conviction results in penalties such as:
- A maximum of one year in county jail and/or
- A fine not exceeding $2,000
In the rare case, you are charged with felony child neglect; you face penalties such as:
- A maximum of one year in county jail or
- A state prison sentence of one year and one day and/or
- A fine not exceeding $2,000
Corporal Injury And The Three Strikes Law
Corporal injury on a spouse or child is considered a strike offense if there was great bodily harm to the victim. A repeat felony conviction becomes a second strike in which the defendant's sentence is doubled. A third strike attracts a sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment.
Consequences of Conviction for Corporal Injury
A conviction for corporal injury on a spouse can have severe consequences, including:
- Difficulty when looking for a job - most employers nowadays will run a background check to see your employment and criminal history. A past conviction, such as that of a corporal injury, can suggest that you tend towards violence. A conviction can lock you out of certain industries such as childcare and healthcare. If you were employed, a conviction could mean sometime in jail or prison, during which you lose your job. Even when you are employed, you may find it harder to get promoted at work.
- Travel restrictions - when you get probation, you may be restricted from moving beyond certain areas. This could affect any business that requires traveling and limit your association with friends and family.
- Deportation: when you are convicted for corporal injury and are an immigrant, you risk being deported from the country, with no chance of returning in the future.
- You lose your firearm rights for a lifetime. You can only restore them through a court process. Even with a misdemeanor conviction, you still face a 10-year firearm ban. Under federal law, you get a lifetime ban for domestic violence charges.
How A Lawyer Can Help
Getting the help of a criminal lawyer is the best choice you can make when you or your loved one is facing charges of corporal injury. The lawyer will help you through the defense process, which can help you avoid a conviction, get a plea bargain or alternative sentencing.
The Importance of your criminal lawyer goes beyond the time you spend in prison or jail. They will help you request for bail, early termination of probation, reduction of a felony charge to a misdemeanor, restoration of lost rights, and expungement of your criminal record.
You, therefore, have to take your time when searching for a lawyer to handle your case. The lawyer should understand various elements of corporal injuries, legal defenses, and related crimes that may be charged. Make sure your criminal lawyer has a track record of successful corporal injury cases.
Find A Criminal Lawyer Near Me
When you are arrested for corporal injury, you need the immediate help of a criminal lawyer. The Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer is your legal partner who will work with you through the court proceedings and the prosecution to fight for your rights. While we cannot promise a particular outcome, we can assure you of our dedication to you and your family. We treat each case as a unique case, not just as another corporal injury case. Therefore, we take our time to collect evidence and prepare our defense to get the best outcome possible. Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer today at 310-502-1314 for a free non-obligatory consultation regarding your case.