Pasadena Criminal Attorney

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Battery Or Corporal Injury On A Spouse

Battery or corporal injury on a spouse in California is one of the domestic violence crimes carrying significant consequences. Cases involving corporal injury are treated with aggression by the prosecutors and law enforcement. If you are facing charges of Penal Code 273.5, corporal injury on a spouse, it’s imperative to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to expose all the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, and maybe get the charges dismissed. Important to note, during the initial court appearance, the judge will issue a protective order prohibiting all interaction with the victim. Time is of the essence when it concerns corporal injury charges and retaining an attorney at the earliest possible stage is the best course of action. The attorneys at Pasadena Criminal Attorney will walk with you as you embark on this new journey. Call us today at 626-689-2277.

What does Battery or Corporal Injury on Spouse Entail?

Corporal injury on a spouse is charged under California Penal Code Section 273.5 and is defined as a deliberate act of physically inflicting injury on an intimate partner, which then causes a traumatic condition.  The partner could be a spouse (current or former), a girlfriend or boyfriend, a cohabitant, the father or mother of the defendant’s child, and a person with whom the defendant has or had a dating relationship. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, the prosecutor is at liberty to treat the crime either as a felony or a misdemeanor.

For you to be convicted of Penal Code 273.5 violation, there are several facts and elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. The elements of battery or corporal injury on a spouse include:

  • You willfully caused physical injury on another person,
  • A traumatic condition resulted from the physical injury, and
  • The victim is your current or former intimate partner

For better comprehension, it would be best to explain the elements in details. For you to be convicted of this offense, these elements are the conditions that the prosecution must prove failure to which no conviction shall be imposed.


In corporal injury cases, the prosecution must first show that you acted willfully, deliberately, and on purpose. In this case, there is no need for the prosecutor to show that you had the intent to break the law, gain advantage, or hurt another person. The evidence provided should be enough to prove that you, the defendant, deliberately, committed an act with the possibility to cause detrimental harm to another person. The prosecution does not have to establish that you intended to cause injury or harm. Moreover, it must establish that the defendant had sufficient knowledge, as a reasonable person would, of the fact that the act by its nature would result in the application of physical force against another and would produce detrimental consequences.

For example, Jane and Mark are engaged and planning to get married. Mark is obsessed and jealous about Jane. One morning, Mark saw Jane talking with a man while she was going out for a walk. Out of jealousy and anger, Mark stormed out and pushed Jane. She fell and ended up with a concussion. While Mark did not intend to cause Jane such a serious physical injury, he could still be charged with corporal injury since he acted willfully in pushing her.

Traumatic condition

A traumatic condition in corporal injury cases is defined as any bodily injury or wound resulting from the direct use of physical force by the defendant. Under PC 273.5, a traumatic condition will be considered by the court even if the injury is minor; it does not need to be serious. Examples of injuries that fall under the traumatic conditions in corporal injury on a spouse include injuries arising from suffocation and strangulation, a concussion, broken bone, sprain, bruise, and internal bleeding. For one to be convicted of battery or corporal injury on a spouse, the prosecution must show that the traumatic condition was a natural and probable result of the injury inflicted on the victim by the defendant and that the traumatic condition would not have occurred without the injury.

Against an intimate partner

One can only be convicted of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant if the physical injury was inflicted on an intimate partner, that is, someone with whom you have an intimate relationship. This could either be a current or former spouse, a fiancé, a person with whom you are cohabiting, the mother or father of your child, or a person with whom you have or had a dating relationship. Thus, PC 273.5 protects those in intimate relationships against domestic violence.

In California, a dating relationship is defined as a relationship constituting “of frequent, intimate association mainly characterized by the expectation of affectional or sexual involvement, independent of financial consideration.” Also, for a relationship to be considered intimate, there is no need for the belief that the relationship would last forever as long as there is or there had been a relationship between the defendant and the victim. It’s also possible for one to cohabit with multiple partners at the same time. These provisions also apply both to homosexuals and heterosexuals without any form of favor or discrimination.

Penalties of Penal Code 273.5 Violation

The offense of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant is a wobbler and can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. However, the decision on whether to file a misdemeanor or felony charge is upon the production and is dependent on the circumstances of the case, your criminal record, and the severity of the injuries involved. If you’re facing a felony charge, an experienced criminal defense attorney can fight to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor PC 273.5 violation is punishable by a fine of up to $6,000, a maximum of one (1) year in county jail, and informal summary probation. Conversely, the basic penalties if someone was charged with a felony include time in state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years, a fine not exceeding $6,000, and a felony probation.

Sentence enhancement

In addition, the penalties of the conviction could be aggravated depending on different factors. If you’ve been convicted of any domestic violence under PC 243(e)(1) in the past 7 years for simple battery, sexual assault battery, aggravated battery, and assault with a deadly weapon. In this case, the felony prison sentence is enhanced to a maximum of 5 years and the fine is enhanced to a maximum of $10,000.

If the injury suffered by the victim is significant or substantial, your sentence could be enhanced under California’s great bodily injury sentencing law. You could face an additional three (3) to five (5) years in prison. Also, you will get a strike on your record under California’s Three Strikes Law. Also, you could face a restraining order or protective order of up to 10 years preventing you from making any interaction with the victim. If you are not a U.S citizen, you could face immigration consequences which include deportation.

If you are sentenced to probation, you will be required to attend a batterer’s treatment program, reimburse the victim for expense arising out of your criminal behavior and counseling, report to the probation officer, and pay up to $5,000 to a battered woman’s shelter.

Possible Defenses to Battery or Corporal Injury on Spouse

Your susceptibility to an incarceration term of higher fine does not imply that the maximum punishment will be imposed on you. What it means is that the circumstance is more severe for you, which then increases the significance of a passionate and aggressive advocacy on your behalf. Our attorneys will fight nail and tooth to protect your rights and freedom. Some of the common defense strategies we can employ in your case include:

Self-defense or defense of others

This applies under the following circumstances:

  • You reasonably believed that you or another party was facing an imminent threat of being injured or physically harmed.
  • It could also be that under the circumstances you reasonably believed that the use of immediate force was the necessary measure you needed to take in order to defend against that danger.
  • You used reasonable amount of force to defend against that danger; it was no more than necessary

If your attorney can prove that your intimate partner physically attacked you and under the circumstances, the best course of action was to defend yourself using force that was only necessary to prevent against the danger, then you acted in self-defense, and you’re not guilty of the deliberate infliction of physical injury.

Lack of willfulness to cause the injury

One of the elements that define corporal injury on a spouse is a willful act. For you to be convicted, the prosecution must show that you willfully or intentionally attacked your intimate partner and injured him/her. Injuries occur by accident sometimes and that is a common occurrence in cases where spouses and those in a dating relationship engage in heated arguments. If you can show that you caused the injuries on your partner but accidentally or inadvertently, the incident occurred by accident, you can have the charges dropped at least reduced to a lesser charge.

Wrongfully accused

Marriages and other intimate relationships are at times volatile and precarious. They are therefore vulnerable to thoughtless conducts and spur of the moment accusations. Individuals are wrongly arrested for battery or corporal injury infliction on a spouse, far too often. Your intimate may falsely accuse you of a crime you never committed out of anger, vindictiveness, jealousy, or desire to control. A skilled corporal injury defense attorney with experience in these types of cases will seek to gather evidence to divulge the false accusations and the ill motives behind them. This will help the truth come out.

It was a mutual combat

There are situations where both parties were engaging each other, but one of them wins the fight. In such a case, you are not guilty of attacking the alleged victim.

Possible Intoxication

This is a circumstantial defense. If your defense attorney can prove that you acted under the influence of some drug when the incident occurred, that can show that you did not have the intent to cause a corporal injury.  It shows that you not in your right state of mind during the assault.

Unwilling Witnesses

In California, intentional infliction of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant cases, one odd situation arises quite often. The accuser may decide not to testify against the defendant or drop the charges altogether. However, even with that, there is a good chance that the prosecutor will still proceed with the charges against the defendant. This is usually out of the belief that the alleged victim is dropping the charges because of the emotional manipulation or threats caused by the defendant.

If the accuser decides not to testify he/she can be forced to appear in court because the prosecutor has the subpoena power of the court. However, for the prosecutor to compel the accuser or any other witness into court, they must be served with subpoena. In other situations, depending on the unique circumstances of the case, the judge can issue a bench warrant for the arrest of a witness who still refuses to appear even after being served with a subpoena. Also, as a defendant, you can have the chance to cross-examine and confront the witnesses testifying against you. It's imperative to note that any statement given by the witness out of court cannot be admissible.

Get Personalized Attention Today

With the prevalence of domestic violence crimes in California, law enforcement and prosecutors investigate and charge these crimes very seriously. A corporal injury on your spouse can have adverse effects on your career, social life and even the lives of your loved ones. If you’ve been arrested or you have every reason to believe that your spouse or intimate partner may report a fight to a law enforcement agency, you should contact the law offices of Pasadena Criminal Attorney immediately.

Our attorneys will resolve the matters of your case as quickly and advantageously as possible by applying every possible effort at every step of your case. Our highly experienced attorneys know how to find and device the best strategy for your case. While other law firms leave their cases to junior associates and paralegals, you can rest assured that you'll get personalized attention for your pressing legal needs. Contact Pasadena Criminal Attorney today at 626-689-2277 for a free initial consultation to discuss a possible plan of action for your case and learn how we protect our own. 

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