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Penal Code Section 273.5(a): Corporal Injury on a Spouse

273.5(A) CORPORAL INJURY TO SPOUSE

California Penal Code Section 273.5 Corporal Injury on a Spouse also referred to as “domestic violence” outlines the specific elements the prosecution is required to prove in order to be found guilty of domestic violence.

The elements of Penal Code 273.5(a) offense are as follows:

  1. Defendant willfully and unlawfully inflicted physical injury on victim. The term willfully indicates that you acted willingly or on purpose, regardless of whether or not it was your intention to break the law.
  2. Victim is a person who has a relationship with the defendant:
    • Defendant’s spouse or former spouse
    • Current or previous cohabitant. It is very 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.
    • Current or previous fiancé 
    • The father or mother or of his or her child
  3. Physical injury caused a traumatic condition (a wound or other bodily injury, whether minor or serious, was caused by the direct application of physical force).

Difference between California Penal Code Section 243(e) and Domestic Battery and PC 273.5

California Penal Code Section 243(e), domestic battery is similar to PC 273.5. The primary difference between the two domestic violence laws is the level of injuries sustained by the victim. Penal Code 243(e)(1) is the least serious of California domestic violence laws and is always considered to be a misdemeanor offense. One key aspect to consider is you can be convicted of domestic abuse under California Penal Code 243 (e) even if there was no physical injury.

Legal Defenses for Penal Code Section 273.5

There are a few legal defenses to penal code section 273.5 and are as follows:

Self Defense or Defense of Another Person

People have the legal right of self-defense when they are attacked. The most common legal defense strategy is to make the argument you were acting in self-defense or defense of another person. Injuries caused while acting defensively should not lead to a conviction under PC 273.5(a). The amount of force one can legally use to defend him or herself depends upon the circumstances of each case. Under Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions 505 and 506, you are considered to have used reasonable self-defense if:

  • You reasonably believed you were in danger of being injured or killed
  • You reasonably believed that you needed to use force to prevent this from happening
  • You used no more force than was necessary to stop the threat

The Injury was Caused Accidentally 

In order for this defense to be successful, it must be proved that you did not have the intent to strike or injure the victim. Individuals charged with PC 273.5(a) must willfully harm an intimate partner to be convicted. If you accidentally inflicted corporal injury on someone this should not lead to fines and incarceration. 

False Accusations Defense

There are plenty reasons you might be facing a false accusations of Penal Code 273.5 PC violations. It is common for individuals to be mistakenly accused for corporal injury. In these cases, the accusation is characteristically grounded on false allegations instigated out of a desire for revenge, anger or jealousy

Penalties for Violation of Penal Code Section 273.5

Corporal injury to spouse under California Penal Code Section 273.5 is known as a “wobbler, and can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. 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 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;
  • A fine of up to $6,000

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. 

Penalties of a Misdemeanor or Felony Corporal Injury Conviction

The penalties of a misdemeanor or felony corporal injury conviction will probably include a protective or restraining order stopping you from getting into any contact with the victim, for a maximum of ten years. Furthermore, a conviction under PC 273.5(a) can lead to additional punishments. Individuals in Los Angeles convicted of corporal injury to a spouse may lose their right to Firearm Ownership and Professional Licenses.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Coupled with Domestic Violence Charge

Often times the victim may file a domestic violence restraining order which is a court order which directs the abuser to not contact and abuse the victim. Furthermore, it regulates and restricts the behavior of the abuser. To obtain a domestic violence restraining order the victim must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the victim has suffered some type of abuse which could include bodily injury, including causing or attempted to cause bodily injury, sexual assault, or show that the victim has been placed in reasonable apprehension of receiving imminent serious bodily injury.

Get Help Defending California Penal Code Section 273.5 Corporal Injury on a Spouse and Restraining Order from an Experienced Lawyer

Hire the most dedicated Glendale criminal defense and Los Angeles restraining order attorney. Our attorneys at Kaass Law are highly dedicated to help our clients in every way possible. You can rely on our experienced lawyer to carefully analyze the facts of your case to prove the facts necessary. We back all of our clients and we invite you to give us a toll free call at (310) 943-1171 to speak to our experienced Glendale domestic violence attorney today.

KAASS LAW, 815 E Colorado St #220, Glendale, CA 91205, (310) 943-1171


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