Domestic Violence – Corporal Injury to Spouse Penal Code Section 273.5

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What are the penalties for Penal Code 273.5 inflicting injury on spouse?

This offense can be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor, and this means that the maximum penalties in the case of a felony charge are serious. They include:

  • imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years;
  • a $6,000 fine; or
  • both a fine and imprisonment.

The law also specifies that more serious penalties apply to cases where the defendant has been convicted of a relevant offense within the previous seven years. Those provisions can increase the penalties up to two, four, or five years in state prison, and increase the possible fine up to $10,000.[20]

Probation can also be granted to a defendant convicted of this offense, however, conditions must be applied. These conditions can include the imposition of a protective order, requiring that a minimum amount of time be spent in jail, and requiring the defendant to pay the victim costs of counseling and any other costs reasonably associated with the defendant’s behavior.[21]

 

What evidence will the Prosecutor use to try to prove a charge of inflicting injury on spouse against me?

If you are charged with the offense of inflicting injury on your spouse etc, under Penal Code 273.5, the Prosecutor will need to prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. that you willfully inflicted a physical injury on the alleged victim;
  2. that the injury inflicted resulted in a traumatic condition;
  3. that you and the alleged victim were in one of the required types of domestic relationship; and, in some cases,
  4. that you did not act in self-defense, or in the defense of another.

 

Willfully inflicted physical injury

This element requires the Prosecutor to prove that the defendant inflicted the injury on purpose. That is, they meant to injure the alleged victim, and it was not just an accident. The defendant can do this directly, or by using any object to inflict an injury.

 

Injury resulted in a traumatic condition

The Prosecutor must prove that the injury caused some kind of wound or other bodily injury, even if only minor. So, for example, if a man throws a punch at his partner, who tries to avoid the punch but gets a small cut on his face from a ring the man is wearing, that small cut would be enough to constitute a ‘traumatic condition’. Obviously, more serious injuries such as bruises, broken bones, and burns would all satisfy this element as well – but the Prosecutor must be able to prove some kind of wound or bodily injury caused by the defendant.

 

Required domestic relationship

The Prosecutor must prove that the defendant and the alleged victim were in one of the following kinds of relationships:

  • the parties are married, or used to be married;
  • the parties are cohabitants, or used to be cohabitants; or
  • the parties have a child together.

 

‘Cohabitants’ does not simply mean people who live together – for example, you cannot be charged with this offense in relation to your roommate. The law provides that a cohabiting relationship refers to “two unrelated persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of the relationship.”[12] Several factors can be used to determine if a cohabiting relationship exists, or existed, including:

  • sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same residence,
  • sharing of income or expense,
  • joint use or ownership of property,
  • the parties holding themselves out as husband and wife, or domestic partners,
  • the continuity of the relationship, and
  • the length of the relationship.

 

Did not act in self-defense, or defense of another

If the defendant claims that they were acting to defend themselves or another person, the Prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were not.

 

This issue can arise in many domestic violence matters, especially where both parties are involved in an argument, or where the police assume that the wrong person was the main aggressor. Summit Defense Attorneys has acted in many cases where someone was accused of inflicting an injury on their spouse or partner, but they were actually acting in self-defense. To read more about how we can help you raise this vital defense in a domestic violence case, please refer to this section of our site.