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Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant

California has enacted laws which criminalize domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse or family violence. One of these laws is covered under Section 273.5 of the California Penal Code, Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Inhabitant, is a “wobbler” under California law. Meaning, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of the case.

Under Sec. 273.5 it states: “Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim described in subdivision (b) is guilty of a felony.” An offense under this section is punishable by two, three, or four years in prison, or up to one year in county jail, or by a fine not to exceed $6,000, or by a fine and imprisonment.

The above punishments apply if the victim has a child with the offender, or if the victim is the offender’s:

  • Husband or wife,
  • Former husband or wife,
  • Cohabitant or former cohabitant, or
  • Fiancé or someone who the offender is or was previously romantically involved.

What does this section mean by a traumatic condition? Does it have to be a serious or life-threatening injury? No, it doesn’t have to be a serious injury. Sec. 273.5 defines a “traumatic condition” as a “wound, or external or internal injury,” and it includes injuries caused by suffocation or strangulation.

Examples of traumatic conditions:

  • A woman has a black eye after being punched by her husband.
  • A man is covered in scratches after his wife attacked him.
  • An ex-girlfriend has bruises on her arms after her ex-boyfriend squeezed her.
  • A woman has a broken rib after her boyfriend kicked her.
  • A man has a concussion after his live-in girlfriend hit him in the head with a lamp.
  • A boyfriend has a cigarette burn on his hand after his jealous girlfriend burned him.

Essentially, if a wound is “visible,” it can trigger criminal charges for corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant. If you’re facing criminal charges under Sec. 273.5, it’s critical to secure defense representation immediately, especially if you are a Green Card holder. Why? Because, domestic violence offenses can trigger removal proceedings.

Recommended reading: “Can Domestic Violence Lead to Deportation?”

Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for criminal defense representation in Orange County. Take advantage of our free case evaluations.