What is Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant?

corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant
Corporal injury to a spouse of cohabitant is willfully inflicting a physical injury that causes a visible injury on an intimate partner. This could be a former spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé, cohabitant, or parent of your child. Certain elements of the crime must be true in order to be convicted. These include:

  • You willfully inflicted a physical injury on a someone,
  • This physical injury resulted in a traumatic condition, and
  • The person who was injured was your intimate partner or former intimate partner.

To do so willfully means you have to have acted on purpose, but not intended to break the law. A traumatic condition means any wound or bodily injury that was caused by physical force. It does not need to be a serious injury.

Penalties for Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant

Corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor the penalties include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail,
  • A fine up to $6,000, and/or
  • Misdemanor probation.

If charged as a felony the penalties include:

  • Two, three, or four years in a state prison,
  • A fine up to $6,000, and/or
  • Felony probation.

If you have prior offenses for California domestic violence then your penalties will increase. The maximum fine will increase to $10,000 and the maximum felony prison sentence can increase to five years for a prior conviction of domestic violence in the last seven years.

If the victim suffers a great bodily injury then the prison sentence can increase by three or five additional years. This could also result in a strike in California’s three strike law.

Legal Defenses for Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant

This is a serious crime with strict punishments, so it’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Here are some of the most common legal defenses for corporal injury.

You acted in self-defense or defense of others

Self-defense can only be used as a legal defense if all of the following are true.

  • You reasonably believed that you or someone else was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or was in imminent danger of being touched unlawfully.
  • You reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger.
  • You used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.

These facts have to be proved in order to be not guilty of corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant.

You did not act willfully

You can only be guilty of corporal injury if you acted willfully. It’s possible to inflict injury by accident. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to get the charges dropped or get it reduced to a lesser offense.

You were falsely accused

False accusations of domestic violence usually occur out of jealousy, anger, or revenge. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows what types of questions to ask to get to the truth.

Any questions? Contact us.