What You Need to Know About California Penal Code 273.5 – Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant
Corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, a charge commonly associated with domestic violence, is a serious crime in California. Here’s everything you need to know about California Penal Code 273.5 – corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.
California Penal Code 273.5 prohibits willfully inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. California statute defines corporal injury as any physical injury, regardless of major or minor. In California, corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.
If you have been charged with corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, your attorney can argue:
You acted in self-defense or in defense of another individual.
In California, individuals cannot be prosecuted for acting in self-defense.
The accuser’s injury was a result of an accident.
If the inflicted injury was accidental, you cannot be charged with corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.
The allegations are false.
This is very common in domestic violence cases. Spouses often seek revenge upon their current, divorcing, or ex-partners by making false domestic violence allegations.
Legal Definition of Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant
California Penal Code 273.5 states that if the following elements are present, the defendant can be charged with corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant:
- The defendant willfully inflicted a physical injury
- On a current or former intimate partner
- AND the physical injury causes the victim a “traumatic condition”
It is important to understand the exact meaning of you applicable Penal Code’s legal diction. If you and your attorney can argue that the PC’s legal diction does not match the elements of your case, you case would likely be void and charges can be immediately dropped.
Definition of “willfully”
According to California law, “willfully” is legally defined as intentionally. In order to be charged, the act of injury must be intentional, but the defendant does not need to intend to break the law.
Definition of “traumatic condition”
California law considers the following injuries “traumatic conditions”:
- A broken bone,
- A bruise
- A concussion,
- A sprain, AND/OR
- Internal bleeding
The traumatic injury must indefinitely be a result of the defendant’s physical force. The traumatic injury is considered a result of the defendant’s physical force if:
- The condition was a probable result of the inflicted injury
- The inflicted injury was the main cause of the traumatic condition
- The traumatic condition would not be present if the inflicted injury did not occur
Definition of “intimate partner”
Under Penal Code 273.5, an intimate partner includes a current or former:
- Registered domestic partner
- Cohabitant (boyfriend or girlfriend that lives with you)
- Serious boyfriend or girlfriend
- OR if the defendant shares a child with the accuser
Legal Penalties of Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant
The penalties of a corporal injury conviction depend on whether the case was charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
If convicted of a misdemeanor, a defendant can be sentenced to
- Up to one year in county jail AND/OR
- A maximum fine of $6,000
The judge could also sentence the defendant to misdemeanor probation instead of jail time, depending on the circumstances.
If convicted of a felony, a defendant can be sentenced to
- Two, three, or four years in state prison AND/OR
- A maximum fine of $6,000
If the defendant has been previously convicted of similar violent crimes, the penalties can be much more severe.
If convicted of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, your immigration status can be changed. California Penal Code 273.5 is a deportable offense, meaning if you are convicted of it, you may not be allowed to:
- Re-enter the United States after leaving
- Ever become a U.S. citizen
- Apply for a green card
Examples of Corporal Injury On a Spouse or Cohabitant
Mike and Arnie, a same-sex couple that live together, get into a serious argument. In a fit of rage, Mike strikes Arnie in the face, fracturing Arnie’s jaw upon impact. Mike can be charged with corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.
Sophie discovers that her fiancé, Gabriel, is cheating on her. Sophie confronts Gabriel, repeatedly pushing him and using obscene language to describe him. Gabriel walks away to leave the argument, and trips and falls while doing so. As a result of the fall, Gabriel fractures his pelvis. Sophie cannot be charged with corporal injury because she did not directly cause the accident. Gabriel’s traumatic condition is the result of him walking away and falling.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been charged with corporal injury on a spouse of cohabitant, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.