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Corporal Injury On Spouse Or Cohabitant

In California Rules, the Penal Code under section 273.5 defined a crime of corporate injury as willfully inflicts of corporate injury that leaves traumatic condition to the victim. Usually this type of crime is known as domestic violence, domestic abuse or spousal abuse. This crime can only be committed against someone in which the defendant has a intimate relationship, including spouse, former spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a fiancé or fiancée, a person who is the parent of the victim child or a person with whom the defendant have a "dating relationship"or have previously dated. Thus, the statute protects the person that is engage in a serious relations from domestic violence. Moreover, traumatic condition could include visible injury, minor injury or even just red mark

Further, it is important to distinguish, corporal injury offense from domestic battery, defined on Penal Code 243 (e)(1). The main requirement of domestic battery is the conduct of touching the victim's intimate part, on the contrary, the main requirement of corporal injury is to commit a physical injury against an intimate partner leaving him/her a traumatic condition.


  • A man who punches his wife in the face.
  • A woman who throw a tennis racquet at her boyfriend enough to leave bruises.
  • A man who was jealous of his ex-wife new boyfriend, arrives at her house and spank her.
  • A woman punches and kicks her roommate, leaving him with a broken arm.

In order for someone being convicted of corporal injury qualified under the section 273.5, the prosecution must prove the following facts and elements of the crime into court:

  1. The defendant willfully caused physical injury on the victim.
  2. The physical injury caused a traumatic condition.
  3. The victim was the defendant's intimate partner or former partner.

Let's explain in details those elements of corporal injury for better comprehension. These conditions are essential for someone being convicted of this offense, if the prosecution does not prove these elements, a person should not be convicted of assault. San Diego Criminal Attorney will work to prove the innocence of its clients.


The first element that prosecution needs to prove to initiate the corporal injury charges is that there was a willful action of the defendant, meaning, there was an intention to do something on purpose, even if there was no intent to hurt someone, gain advantage or break the law.
The evidence necessary to proof, is that the person, the defendant, willfully committed a conduct that by its nature will probably directly result in injury to another person. The prosecution does not need to prove a specific intent to inflict a specific harm. However, it must show that the defendant intentionally engaged in an act that would produce detrimental consequences.
Moreover, it requires an intentional act and knowledge of facts sufficient to lead a reasonable person to realize that the act by its nature will probably and directly result in the application of physical force against another. 1 
Additionally, the term of act wilfully is when the defendant does the touching willingly or purposely, however it does not mean that the individual intent to act an unlawful conduct or hurt someone else.
Lauren and Francis are getting married and they have been living together, however, Francis is obsessed and jealous about Lauren. Someday, Francis saw Lauren talking with a man while she was taking her dog out. When she came back home, Francis asked Lauren about the man and Lauren did not answer. Francis was furious grabbed Lauren's hand and twisted, leaving her with a broken wrist.
In this scenario, Francis could be charged of corporal injury, even if he did not intent to cause her injury, but he acted willfully when he twisted her wrist.

Traumatic condition

In California, traumatic condition is determined as a wound or other serious bodily injury, or minor injury, caused by the direct uses of physical force of the defendant. The courts considered traumatic conditions even if a minor injury occurred, as a cut, blow or other impact, typically is when the skin is cut or broken, bruise, broken bone, sprain and internal bleeding.
In order for someone being convicted of corporal injury, the traumatic condition must be the result of the injury committed by the defendant if the traumatic was the consequence of the injury, the injury was direct and substantial cause of the traumatic condition and the traumatic condition would not have happened without the injury. CALCRIM 840

1 People v. Williams (2001) 26 C.4th 779, 787, 111 C.R.2d 114, 29 P.3d 197, infra, § 44 

Anna threw a baseball bat at her husband, because she was mad that he did not cook her dinner. He ends up with an internal bleeding on his stomach. In this case, Anna could be guilty of corporal injury, since the internal bleeding was a result of anna's actions.
Ted is living with his girlfriend for the past 2 years. One day, he is mad at her because he discovered that she was cheating on him. Ted got out of rageous, threw his shoe at her but when she was trying to avoid the shoe, she felt on the floor and hurt her knee.
In this case, Ted should not be convicted of corporal injury, since the traumatic condition of his girlfriend was in result of her falls into the floor and not because he threw a shoe at her.

Against an intimate partner

In order to constitute the crime of corporal injury, the physical injury must be done against an intimate partner. This crime can only be committed against someone in which the defendant has a intimate relationship, including spouse, former spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a fiancé or fiancée, a person who is the parent of the victim child or a person with whom the defendant have a "dating relationship"or have previously dated. Thus, the statute protects the person that is engaged in a serious relations against domestic violence.
The Courts already have established what is the definition of "dating relationship", in which consists "of frequent, intimate association mainly characterized by the expectation of affectional or sexual involvement, independent of financial consideration." Furthermore, the dating relationship does not acquire an exclusive interest that the relationship would endure for ever, as long as the defendant considered the relationship between him/her or the victim. Also, the dating element does not require an increasingly exclusive interest or it does not preclude a new dating relationship. People v. Rucker (2005) 126 C.A.4th 1107, 25 C.R.3d 62.


The offense of corporal injury can be charged as either misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant's criminal background. This is called wobbler in California, the prosecution has an option to charge the defendant with either misdemeanor or felony. Further, if prosecutors charge our client a wobbler as a felony, we can reduce the penalty to a misdemeanor sentencing.

A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not exceeding six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or misdemeanor probation, or the fine, imprisonment and probation.
However, if someone was charged as a felony, the penalties could be aggravated depending on the facts of the case, a felony is punishable by a fine not exceeding six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not from two (2) years to four (4) years, and a felony probation, or both fine, imprisonment and the probation.

2 P.C 243 (f) (10). 

In addition, the conviction could be aggravated in a fine up to ten thousand dollar ($10,000) and a imprisonment for up to five (5) years, for the following situations:

  • If the defendant have prior conviction for any domestic violence offenses within 7 years.
  • If the victim had suffered great bodily injury from the action of the defendant.

Restraining order

Furthermore, beside the felony or misdemeanor punishment, the defendant could face a restraining order to prevent he/she from making any contact with the victim, up to ten year, depending the facts of the case.
Immigration consequences

Corporal injury offense could be a felony crime in California, and the punishment could be severe. In addition of the imprisonment or the fine, if the person who committed the corporal injury against his/her intimate partner is not a us citizen, she/he could face some immigration consequences, as deportation. Corporal injury is a crime that is called deportable crime under federal immigration law, if you are authorized to stay in the country and you face a domestic violence conviction, you may face deportation proceedings. Thus, if you were charged with domestic battery, you should contact an attorney promptly and San Diego Criminal Attorney could help you to build a strong defense for your case.

Legal Defense

A corporate injury is a wobbler in California Law, meaning that a person could face a felony or a misdemeanor conviction, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, the conviction is going to be on the person's criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there is a domestic violence offense registered, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a misdemeanor or felony background. If you have been charged with this offense, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Attorney has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be use to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems.

To contest the charges of corporal injury, San Diego Criminal Attorney would be able to use the following legal defenses:


  • The conduct was in self-defense or third party defense

The self-defense theory could be applied in corporal injury charges, the defendant could have a defense if the defendant reasonably believe that there was an imminent danger of suffering body injury or being touched unlawfully, there is a reasonable believe that an immediate use of force was necessary to avoid the dangers, and the uses of force was reasonable necessary to defend against the danger. The attorneys could use self-defense doctrine to avoid the conviction.

  • There was no willful conduct.

Sometimes the actions of the defendant were accidental or misunderstanding by the victim. Under this type of defense, it is essential that the defense attorney and the prosecution get the entire facts of the accident. If you have been charged with this offense make sure you contact an attorney immediately. San Diego Criminal Attorney can help you build a strong defense, if you did not act willfully.

  • Wrongfully accused:

Under the rules of Californa Law, it is too easy for a victim falsely accuse another of committing this crime, sometimes the cause of action is out of anger, revenge or jealousy. However, San Diego Criminal Attorney know how to protect its clients from wrongfully accusations. If this is your case, contact an attorney promptly.

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