Corporal Injury to Spouse

California Penal Code Section 273.5 – Corporal Injury to Spouse

The crime of “corporal injury to spouse” is defined under California Penal Code Section 273.5. This domestic violence related crime is generally described as willfully inflicting a physical injury on a spouse or intimate partner and commonly known in Los Angeles County criminal courts as “domestic abuse.” PC 273.5 is similar to California Penal Code Section 243(e), domestic battery. The primary difference between the two domestic violence laws is the level of injuries sustained by the victim. By definition, “corporal injury” means some type of minor or serious physical injury that results in a traumatic condition. This means in order to be convicted of corporal injury to spouse, you would need to inflict actual bodily injury caused by physical force. It’s important to note the injury on the victim doesn’t need to be serious, but could be minor, such as a bruise or sprain. A common example in Los Angeles County of a PC 273.5 corporal injury to spouse cases includes a situation where husband and wife become involved in a heated argument over finances. During the heat of the quarrel, the husband punches his wife in the face leaving her with a broken nose. The wife calls the Los Angeles Police Department and tells the officers what happened. At the same time, the officers notice the very visible injury of a broken nose and arrest the husband for corporal injury to spouse. In this textbook example, the husband can be prosecuted for PC 273.5 because he willfully struck his wife and caused a traumatic condition. It’s critical to stop and note here is also very common for the wife to later regret her decision of calling police and want to drop the charges. The victim can’t drop charges. It’s not their decision to make. Once police become involved, any decision on how to file the domestic violence charges is in the hands of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

If you have been accused of corporal injury to a spouse, you need to consult with the experienced Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group. We have a track record of success in obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients in any type of domestic violence related charges. Now that we have discussed a general overview of corporal injury to a spouse crime, let’s review the legal definition, penalties, and defenses below.

Legal Definition of Corporal Injury to Spouse

California Penal Code Section 273.5 defines corporal injury to spouse as follows:

(a) Anyone who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition on a victim is guilty of a felony crime. If convicted, they shall be punished by confinement in state prison for two, three, or four years, or county jail for up to one year, or a fine up to $6,000, or both fine and imprisonment.

By definition, PC 273.5 means you caused injury an injury to an intimate partner, which includes a current or former spouse, fiance, a cohabitant, or parent of your child. It’s important to note a “cohabitant” is described as two unrelated people who have been living with each other for a significant amount of time that resulted in some type of relationship. Typically, the factors that are considered in determining whether or not the victim was a cohabitant include the following:

  • Any sexual relations between two people in same home
  • The length of the relationship
  • Any sharing of income or expenses
  • Any joint use or ownership of property
  • Two people who represent themselves as partners

The term “willfully” in the definition simply means it was on purpose. A traumatic condition is defined as any wound or bodily injury that was caused by using physical force. As stated, the condition does not have to be life-threatening or serious, but it must be a “natural and probable consequence” of the injury. Some common examples include a black eye, broken nose, concussion, serious bruising or sprains, internal bleeding, among others.

Legal Penalties for Corporal Injury to Spouse

Corporal injury to spouse under California Penal Code Section 273.5 is known as a “wobbler,” meaning it can be filed by the prosecutor as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Their decision is typically based on the facts and circumstances of the case and your prior criminal record. If the victim sustained serious injuries or you have a history of domestic violence incidents, the case will normally be filed as a felony crime.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor case for PC 273.5 inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, you will face up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail and a fine of up to $6,000. If convicted of a felony spousal abuse case, you will face up to 4 years in a California state prison and the same fine amount.

Additionally, the legal penalties for a felony conviction can be increased if you have a prior conviction within the past 7 years for corporal injury on a spouse, domestic battery, assault causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, or sexual battery.

Related Offenses

California Penal Code Section 243(e) – Domestic Battery
California Penal Code Section 243(d) – Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury
California Penal Code Section 273a – Child Endangerment
California Penal Code Section 368 – Elder Abuse
California Penal Code Section 240 – Assault
California Penal Code Section 242 – Battery

Legal Defenses for Corporal Injury to Spouse

Our skilled Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers can use a variety of legal strategies to obtain the best possible outcome on your charges of corporal injury to a spouse in violation of California Penal Code Section 273.5. It should be noted every case is unique and first requires a close examination of the specific details. However, the most common legal defenses include the following:

Self-Defense: The most common legal defense strategy is to make the argument you were acting in self-defense or defense of another person. Is some cases, we may be able to successfully argue you only used force to defend yourself because you had a reasonable belief you or someone else was in imminent danger of being unlawfully touched or suffering bodily injury and you had to use force against the danger, and did not use any more force than necessary. Our goal is to cast reasonable doubt.

No Intent: In certain cases, our lawyers may be able to show evidence you didn’t intend to inflict injury on the alleged victim. In other words, an accident is a valid defense to corporal injury to a spouse abuse charges.  Remember, if you go back to the legal definition, one of the main elements of the crime is that you “willfully” inflicted corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. In order to convict you of spousal abuse, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to inflict injury. If our lawyers can show the injury might have been the result of an accident or you never had the intent to inflict injury, you could have a good chance of avoiding a conviction.

False Accusation: It not only happens, it’s not uncommon. In some cases, people are falsely accused of domestic violence related incidents out of revenge, anger, or jealously. In other cases, false allegations are made as a perceived advantage in a bitter child custody case. Our lawyers might be able to show using emails, texts, or social media accounts, the alleged victim’s allegations are simply false.

Contact our Criminal Defense Law Firm for Help

If you been accused of corporal injury to spouse in violation of California Penal Code Section 273.5, you should consult with our highly experienced Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group. We have successfully used all the legal defenses listed above and will work aggressively to achieve the best possible outcome on your case. We may be able to have your case dismissed or to reduce your charge to a lesser offense, such as simple assault charge or even misdemeanor battery. We serve clients throughout Los Angeles County from our Hollywood Law Office located at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact us for a case review at 323-461-2000.

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