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Corporal Injury

Crimes involving domestic violence and domestic abuse are often accompanied by a social stigma. There are many forms of corporal injury, and some of them are less “culpable” than others. In addition to the social stigma associated with a conviction for corporal injury, the punishments can be severe as well, especially if you are an immigrant. If you are accused of corporal injury, it is important to contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer immediately after you have been arrested for corporal injury. Contacting LACL can provide substantial benefits to the outcome of your case.

When you contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, an initial consultation will be scheduled. In your initial consultation, you will have an opportunity to tell your attorney all the information surrounding the incident that gave rise to the criminal charges against you while it is still fresh in your memory. The benefit of providing the information while it is fresh in your memory is that the information will be accurate and complete. Over time, people tend to forget information they believe is unimportant, and the truth becomes slightly blurred. The importance of accurate information cannot be overstated. To a skilled attorney, every minor detail could have major consequences for better or worse. An attorney who has the entire picture is better able to protect their client’s interests in Court.

California Penal Code §273.5 defines the crime of corporal injury. In order to obtain a conviction for corporal injury the Prosecution must prove that the Defendant willfully engaged in certain conduct, that conduct caused a corporal injury, and the corporal injury resulted in a traumatic condition in the Plaintiff. Corporal injury is commonly known as domestic abuse, or domestic violence. As the name indicates, only a crime where the Victim has an intimate relationship with the Defendant. Specifically, the only Victims of corporal injury are the Defendant’s spouse, fiancé, the family members of their spouse of fiancé, or someone who is cohabitating with the Defendant. Further, the injury caused by the corporal injury does not need to be significant; if your conduct results in any visible mark on the victim, you will be deemed to have satisfied the traumatic condition element of corporal injury. The class of persons the law is designed to protect is individuals who are in a serious relationship with the Defendant

There is an important distinction between the crime of corporal injury and the crime of domestic battery. Domestic battery involves the nonconsensual touching of an intimate partner, whereas the crime of corporal injury requires the Victim suffer a traumatic condition

Examples:

  • Dan is married to Victoria, one night Dan strikes Victoria leaving a bruise;
  • Denise and Van are engaged, and Van throws a lamp at Van’s head after an argument, causing a slight cut on his left cheek;
  • Dan used to be married to Victoria, angry that she has taken a new lover, Dan goes to Victoria’s house and shakes her violently causing whiplash;
  • Dan and Van are roommates, Dan is upset that Van doesn’t do any chores around the house, so Dan kicks Van and breaks his leg.

In order to convict the Defendant of corporal injury, the Prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant acted willfully;
  2. The Defendant’s willful act caused corporal injury to the Victim;
  3. The corporal injury amounts to a traumatic condition; AND
  4. The Victim and Defendant had an intimate relationship.

It is important to obtain a more thorough understanding of each and every element of the crime of corporal injury. The Prosecution has the burden of proving each element beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, a common defense strategy is simply to negate each element of the crime you have been accused of. If you have been accused of corporal injury, it is important to contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer immediately. As mentioned above the benefits of retaining counsel early in the process are substantial. At LACL we take pride in providing our clients a superior degree of service. Part of providing superior service is keeping our clients up to speed with their case and everything pertaining to their case. The remainder of this article ill discuss: (1) the elements of corporal injury, (2) the penalties you might face if you are convicted of corporal injury; and (3) what Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer can do to assist you if you are accused of corporal injury

Willfully

There are two types of criminal intent required for nearly every criminal act; general or specific. General intent means that the Defendant intended to do the act that gave rise to the crime. Specific intent means the Defendant intended the outcome of their act, or acted for a specific reason. Almost all forms of battery are general intent crimes, which means that to satisfy the intent element of the crime, the Defendant only had to intend to do the action that resulted in the touching. It does not matter if the Defendant had no ill-will, or only meant to frighten the Victim The legal community has been engaged in a discussion as to whether this definition is sufficient, it has been suggested that the correct definition of willfully is a person acts “willfully” when they engage in conduct on purpose, they are aware of what they are doing, and they intend to engage in that act[i]. For practical purposes, absent extenuating circumstances, this element is fairly easy for the Prosecution to prove; many of the defenses your LACL attorney can raise will be aimed at negating the possibility that the Defendant was acting willfully.

Example:

Dan and Victoria have been roommates for five (5) years, and recently became intimate. A few days prior, Dan observed that Victoria was acting distant and looking at her phone a lot. One day, Dan took Victoria’s phone and saw that he had been sending several text messages to a gentleman Dan suspected had a crush on Victoria. Dan confronted Victoria about it and she wouldn’t say anything, she just walked towards the door. Assuming the worst, Dan became angry and grabbed Victoria’s wrist to keep her from leaving. When Dan grabbed Victoria by the wrist, he snapped one of the bones in her hand. Dan acted willfully by grabbing Victoria’s hand, despite the fact that he didn’t intend to hurt her like that

What is a Traumatic Condition?

If the Prosecution is able to prove that the Defendant acted willfully, and exceeded their authority to discipline their child, the Prosecution must then prove that the conduct resulted in a traumatic condition to the child. The Courts are very strict in determining whether or not a traumatic condition is present, holding that even slight scratches and bruises constitute a traumatic condition. It is essential that the Prosecution prove that your act resulted in the traumatic condition however.

Who is an Intimate Partner?

The crime of corporal injury identifies specific individuals who are protected Victims, the traumatic injury of which will subject the Defendant to a corporal injury charge. The individuals protected by this statute are the Defendant’s intimate partners, including past partners. This statute protects the spouse or cohabitant of the Defendant, as well as the parent of the Defendant’s child. Further, a fiancé, ex-spouse, or anybody who the Defendant has or is currently dating is a protected person under this statute.

What Are the Penalties for Corporal Injury?

Corporal injury can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. These types of crimes are referred to as “wobbler offenses.” The decision of whether or not to bring the charge as misdemeanor or a felony is made by the District Attorney who makes his decision based on the specific facts of your case. It is essential to have a competent attorney representing you before the charges are brought against you. The reason for this is a skilled attorney can present a persuasive argument to the District Attorney as to why the crime should not be a felony in a cooperative manner. The District Attorney’s job is not to pursue every possible crime, it is to provide justice. In some circumstances it would be an offense to justice to bring a charge in a specified manner. Having skilled counsel on your side will provide the best opportunity of convincing the Prosecutor to see things your way.

If you are convicted of misdemeanor corporal injury, you will face up to one (1) year in county jail, enrollment in misdemeanor probation, and/or a fine of up to six-thousand($6,000) dollars.

If you are convicted of felony corporal injury, you will face incarceration in a California State Prison for a period ranging from two (2) to four (4) years and/or a fine of up to six-thousand ($6,000) dollars.

If you are convicted of felony corporal injury and: (1) you have been convicted of a domestic violence crime in the past seven (7) years, and (2) The Victim suffered serious bodily injury, you will face enhanced penalties.

Restraining Orders

In addition to being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the Court often issues a restraining order designed to prevent you from communicating with the Victim. If you currently cohabitate with the Victim this could be particularly devastating as you will need to move out to avoid violating the restraining order. A restraining order can be extended up to ten (10) years.

Immigration Consequences

Corporal injury is known as a “deportable offense.” Thus, if you have been convicted of felony corporal injury and you are an immigrant in the United States, there is a risk that you will be deported as a result of that conviction. If you are an immigrant and have been accused of corporal injury, it is essential that you contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer immediately Our attorneys will fight vigorously to protect our rights, and your status in the United States. LACL has represented thousands of clients, and understand the frightening nature of facing deportation. LACL will fight to obtain the best possible outcome possible.

I Have Been Accused of Corporal Injury, How Can Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Assist Me

Corporal injury is a “wobbler offense” in California, which means the Prosecution can charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony. The District Attorney makes this determination based on the facts surrounding your case. Regardless of the form it takes a conviction for corporal injury will remain on your criminal background for a long time; this could have a negative impact on your future job prospects. Most employers conduct a background check as a matter of course when they are screening applicants for positions with their company.

Additionally, you may receive a restraining order preventing you from any communication with the Victim. Finally, you may face deportation if you are convicted of corporal injury. In light of the severity of the consequences you can face for a conviction of corporal injury, it is important to retain the very best attorney you can. Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer has decades of combined experience representing clients in Court, and have perfected the art of trial advocacy. During your trial your attorney will raise a number of defenses including:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of a third-party
  • The Defendant did not act willfully
  • The Defendant was falsely accused

If you or a loved one has been accused of corporal injury, contact Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer at 310-502-1314 for a FREE consultation.


i California Crim. Jury Instr. Companion Handbook § 5:1, California Crim. Jury Instr. Companion Handbook § 5:1

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