Are you facing criminal charges for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant in San Diego? Crimes of domestic violence are taken very seriously in California. Prosecutors will leave no stone unturned as they build a case against you. Your best option is to get the help of an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney.
At the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC, our lawyers have more than 19 years of experience handling these sensitive and personal criminal matters. We know that your life is on the life and are prepared to do whatever we can to secure the best possible outcome in your case. Call our San Diego office today to schedule an initial consultation. We’ll review your case, explain your rights, and answer any questions you have.
Corporal Injury to a Spouse in San Diego – Penal Code 273.5 PC
It’s a crime of domestic abuse to physically injure someone with whom you have a romantic or long-lasting relationship in California. When this happens, you can face criminal charges for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. This is actually the most frequently charged domestic violence offense in the state.
Under California Penal Code 273.5 PC, it is a crime to “willfully inflict corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” on a spouse or cohabitant. When you are charged with this crime, the state has the burden of proving that you are guilty of each element of the crime. This means prosecutors must prove that you:
- Willfully inflicted a corporal injury
- Resulting in a traumatic condition
- On a spouse or cohabitant, whether current or former.
You can’t be convicted of the crime unless the state can prove each of these things.
Penal Code 273.5 PC states that it is a crime to “willfully” inflict physical harm. Willful actions are those that are done on purpose. You can’t be convicted under 273.5 PC if you physically harmed a spouse by mistake.
A traumatic condition refers to any injury, whether minor or severe, that is the result of direct physical force. This can include strangulation, suffocation, broken bones, lacerations, bruising, or brain damage. Any injury, external or internal, can be considered a “traumatic condition” if it was caused by physical force.
Spouse or Cohabitant
Penal Code 273.5 PC only applies when the victim is a spouse or cohabitant. This includes a current and former spouse; a current and former fiancee or dating partner; the mother or father of your child; or a current or former cohabitant.
A cohabitant is anyone with whom you’ve lived for an extended period of time and established a long-lasting relationship. Cohabitation may exist if you own property together, share income and expenses, or are involved in a sexual relationship.
Corporal Injury vs. Domestic Battery
Inflicting corporal injury on a spouse and domestic battery are similar. However, they are actually two distinct crimes. The primary difference between these two domestic violence crimes ultimately boils down to whether or not the victim suffers an injury.
Domestic battery occurs when you touch another person in your household in a harmful or offensive way. There’s no requirement that you actually cause a physical injury or traumatic condition.
Inflicting corporal injury, however, requires that the victim suffered an injury. The injury, known as a traumatic condition, can be minor or severe.
It is possible to face criminal charges for both domestic battery and inflicting corporal injury on a spouse. It’s also possible that criminal charges for inflicting corporal injury could be reduced the lesser crime of battery.
Penalties for Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse
In California, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The state will review factors that are relevant to your case when deciding which charges are most appropriate. Factors that could affect your case may include:
- Your criminal record
- Prior domestic violence convictions, and
- Degree of harm suffered by the victim.
Misdemeanor Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse: Punishable by up to 12 months in a San Diego County jail and/or $6,000 in fines.
Felony Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse: Punishable by two, three, or four years in a California state prison and/or $6,000 in fines.
Enhanced Penalties: You can face additional penalties if you have been convicted of one of these other violent crimes at some point in the last 7 years:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Assault with a caustic chemical
- Assault with a stun gun
- Assault or battery resulting in serious bodily injury
- Sexual battery, or
- Inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.
In addition to these criminal penalties, you will also be vulnerable to social and civil penalties. These are known as “collateral consequences” and they exist because you have been convicted of a crime of domestic violence. These can include:
- Domestic violence restraining order
- Adverse child custody decisions
- Permanent loss of gun ownership rights
- Loss of professional licenses, and
- Loss of eligibility for state welfare benefits.
Defending Charges of Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse
If you’ve been arrested and/or charged with a crime, your criminal case is just beginning. The state still has the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You also have the right to offer a defense. A strong defense will make it tough for the state to satisfy its burden of proof.
Defenses should help to explain, excuse, or justify your alleged behavior. Arguments that may be used in defense of charges for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse include:
- You were acting in self-defense
- You have been falsely accused
- Your actions were not willful
- The victim is not a spouse or cohabitant
- The victim did not actually suffer a physical injury, or
- The physical injury was not caused by direct physical force.
Hiring an attorney to handle your defense will help you secure the best possible outcome in your case. Contact San Diego criminal defense lawyer Vikas Bajaj to schedule an initial consultation and learn more.
San Diego Corporal Injury To a Spouse Defense Attorneys
Allegations of domestic violence will be taken very seriously by state prosecutors in California. If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of inflicting corporal injury to a spouse, you need to speak with an experienced attorney right away. At the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC, our attorneys have been handling domestic violence cases for more than 16 years. We know what’s at stake and are prepared to help you fight to protect your future. Call us today to schedule an initial consultation. Our San Diego domestic violence defense lawyers will review your case and help you understand your rights.