In the state of California, corporal injury is a serious offense that could possibly lead to severe punishment if convicted. At Domestic Violence Attorney, we are ready to assist you, or any one you may know that has been charged, with a corporal injury offense. Finding the right defense can be a complex and confusing task, especially if this is your first experience; however, we aim to provide help to anyone in Orange County who happens to find themselves in troubled times. With our highly qualified and professional staff, we can help you find the right defense for a corporal injury offense.

What Does A Corporal Injury Offense Mean?

Corporal injury can, at times, also be called domestic violence, domestic abuse, or spousal abuse. As defined by California Penal Code (PC) Section 273.5, any person who intentionally inflicts a corporal injury resulting in a traumatic, or painful, condition upon a spouse, a former spouse, a co-inhabitant, a former co-inhabitant, a fiancé(e), a previous person with which they had an intimate relationship, or the mother/parent of his or her child can be charged with a corporal injury offense.

A corporal injury offense arises when the defendant has

  • Willfully
  • Inflicted corporal injury
  • Resulting in a traumatic condition


  • A spouse / former spouse,
  • A co-inhabitant / former co-inhabitant,
  • A fiancé(e),
  • A person from a previous intimate relationship, or
  • The mother / father of a shared child.

Committing of this type of physical violence against a person of one of these, or any other similar, relationships will result in a corporal injury charge in the state of California.


  • Will and Maria, a married couple, get into an argument at home. Will slaps Maria and draws blood by accidentally using too much force. Will could be charged with corporal injury.
  • Billy confronts an ex-girlfriend. Angry and drunk, Billy pushes her into a bookcase and cause her to break a rib. Billy can be charged with corporal injury.

These examples display the necessary elements needed to be legally identified as corporal injury in the court of law. The examples, or any other type of situation of a similar nature, can result in a corporal injury charge in the state of California.

Why Am I Charged with Corporal Injury?

Under California Penal Code (PC) Section 273.5, a corporal injury offense is clearly outlined to include specific elements that lead to a charge. In short, a corporal injury charged arises when you have willfully, or purposely, injured someone with which you have an intimate relationship. If you have committed the actions outlined by the law, you may face a corporal injury offense.

Being charged with corporal injury means that you have used purposely used physical force to injury another person. Also, this injury must result in a “traumatic condition” for the victim. As defined by the Penal Code, a “traumatic condition” means an injury on the body, minor or serious in nature. This includes such injuries as a wound, internal or external, as a result of being strangled, suffocated, or another form of violent physical force used to inflict an injury upon another person. If a use of physical force results in something as minor as a bruise or sprain, it is considered a “traumatic condition.” This simply means any use of physical force that results in injury can be viewed as a “traumatic condition.”

In corporal injury cases, the victim of the injury needs to have been someone you know and have, or have had, an intimate relationship. Again, as listed under California Penal Code (PC) Section 273.5, this can include a variety of individuals. The victim of corporal injury needs to have been one of the following:

  • A spouse / former spouse,
  • A co-inhabitant / former co-inhabitant,
  • A fiancé(e),
  • A parent of your child, or
  • Any other person that you had a previous intimate relationship.

By purposely using physical force to injury anyone with which you have one of these relationships with, you can potentially face a corporal injury charge in California.

What Are the Possible Penalties?

Corporal injury is a serious crime in California, and the possible penalties can be quite severe depending on the circumstances around each case. As a “wobbler” crime in California, corporal injury may shift between misdemeanor and felony depending on the details around each case, the severity of the crime, and a defendant’s past criminal behavior.

If you are convicted of a corporal injury misdemeanor, the possible penalties are: up to one (1) year in county jail, maximum $6,000 fine, or both. Also, as a misdemeanor, you could also potentially face a sentence of summary, or informal, probation.

If the results of the crime are more severe or if you have a significant history of criminal behavior, you may face a corporal injury felony depending on the discretion of the prosecutor. Since this implies a more serious crime, the punishments are also increased. As a felony, the following potential penalties include: up to four (4) years in state prison, a maximum fine of $6,000, or both. Also, the court may sentence the defendant with formal probation.

If you have been convicted of a domestic violence offense within the last seven years, then the penalties are increased to include more time in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

It is also important to note that the penalties may further increase due to “great bodily injury,” as defined by California Penal Code (PC) Section 12022.7. This type of sentencing enhancement can add more penalties on top of the original charge. If it is determined that the victim had suffered significant bodily injury, then the defendant can receive an additional sentence of five (5) years in state prison. This means, a defendant with a felony conviction for corporal injury could potentially face up to nine (9) years in state prison.

If sentenced to probation, you are required to fulfill certain conditions. These can include: paying a fine, paying the victim compensation for legal fees, making a donation to a women’s shelter, attending a counseling or treatment program, doing community service, adhering to a restraining order, and staying clear of criminal behavior. If you fail to fulfill these conditions, you could face even harsher penalties.

In summary, the possible penalties are:


  • Maximum one (1) year imprisonment in county jail,
  • Maximum $6,000 fine,
  • Both the jail time and fine, and/or
  • Summary probation.


  • Up to four (4) years in state prison (more depending on severity of injury),
  • Maximum $6,000 fine ($10,000 if convicted within last 7 years),
  • Both the prison time and fine, or
  • Formal probation with one (1) year in county jail.

Related Charges and Penalties

It is possible with a corporal injury offense to be charged along with other offenses. Also, even if the crime you have committed cannot be legally charged as corporal injury, you may face another type of offense in California. Commonly related charges include: domestic battery, disturbing the peace, elderly abuse, and child endangerment.

Domestic Battery

In California Penal Code Section (PC) 243(e)(1), domestic battery refers to cases in which the defendant has committed battery against a spouse, former spouse, co-inhabitant, former co-inhabitant, a parent of a shared child, a fiancé(e), or any person with which the defendant has had a dating or intimate relationship. What makes domestic battery different from a corporal injury offense is that the victim of the crime does not need to be physically injured. In a domestic battery case, the physical contact made between the defendant and the victim needs to only have been made in a way that is menacing or offensive.

Domestic battery is seen as less severe than a corporal injury charge, and is usually charged as a misdemeanor. If convicted, the defendant potentially faces: a maximum fine of $2,000, maximum one (1) year imprisonment in jail, or both. Also, the defendant may be granted probation by the court. Under probation the defendant would have to enroll in a batterer’s program, or any other similar type of counseling.

A corporal injury charged can be reduced to a domestic battery charge if no injury has been sustained by the victim. If this is the case, the defendant potentially faces lighter penalties.

Disturbing the Peace

As defined by California Penal Code (PC) Section 415, “disturbing the peace” refers to incidents in which a person unlawfully fights or challenges another person to fight in a public space, maliciously or willfully uses loud and unreasonable noises to disturb another person, or uses offensive language to incite violent reaction in a public space. This type of offense can be charged alongside a corporal injury offense, or it can be a reduction depending on the prosecution.

“Disturbing the peace” is considered to be a misdemeanor, or an infraction in California. As such, its punishments include: a maximum fine of $400, up to 90 days in county jail, or both.

Elderly Abuse

Under California Penal Code (PC) Section 368, it is a crime to willfully cause bodily harm or death, suffering, or unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a person over the age of 65. This is considered to be elderly abuse in California. This can be a stand-alone offense, or charged alongside corporal injury if the victim should be over 65 years of age.

Elder abuse is considered to be a “wobbler” crime in California.

If the charge is convicted as a misdemeanor, possible penalties include: maximum sentence of six (6) months in jail, maximum $1,000 fine, or both imprisonment and the fine.

If the charge is convicted as a felony, possible penalties are more severe and include: maximum four (4) years in California state prison, maximum fine up to $6,000, or both. Additionally, if the victim has suffered from great bodily injury, then the defendant may receive significant enhancements on their time in state prison: three (3) years if the victim is under the age of 70 and five (5) years if over 70. If the defendant has caused the death of the victim, then he or she may receive an additional time in state prison: five (5) years if the victim was under 70, and seven (7) years if over 70.

Also, any person who is aware of the abuse of an elderly person or has custody over the victim may also face a misdemeanor charge.

Child Endangerment

A corporal injury charge can lead to a child endangerment charge. Due to the domestic nature of the crime, corporal injury can present a danger to a child’s safety. As established by California Penal Code (PC) Section 273a, a child endangerment offense refers to the act of willfully causing or permitting your child to inhabit situations that can potentially prove to be detrimental to his/her health. This type of offense may be charged alongside corporal injury.

Even though there may not be any physical harm sustained by these situations, the act of simply allowing a child to inhabit a dangerous situation is a serious offense. It can be thought of as a form of neglect by not considering the child’s well-being and by relinquishing responsibility of providing proper care to the child.

As a “wobbler” crime, child endangerment offense may potentially lead to a misdemeanor or felony conviction at the discretion of the prosecution in each case. As such the possible punishments include: up to one (1) year imprisonment in jail, or a maximum sentence of six (6) years in a state prison.

What Needs to be Proven with a Corporal Injury Charge?

As with any kind of offense, the court has to prove certain elements of each case to convict you of a corporal injury charge. The court has to prove: willful intent, a corporal injury that results in a traumatic condition, and that the victim is of some kind of intimate relationship.

Willful Intent

As specified under California Penal Code Section (PC) 273.5, the use of physical force against needs to have been willful, or with purpose. This means the defendant purposely used physical force to injury the victim.

Traumatic Condition

Secondly, there needs to be evidence of a resulting traumatic condition. The physical force used must have resulted in something like a wound, a bruise, a sprain, or any other type of injury no matter how minor. This traumatic condition needs to be a direct result of the corporal injury.

Intimate Relationship with Victim

Lastly, the victim needs to have been one of the following in a corporal injury case: a spouse, a former spouse, a co-inhabitant, a former co-inhabitant, a fiancé(e), a parent of a shared child, or someone from an intimate or dating relationship.

With a corporal injury case, all of these elements need to be proven in the court of law in order to lead to a conviction in California.

Are There Defenses That Can Be Used?

With the help of a lawyer, a working defense may be utilized to get rid of any charge you may face. Common defenses include, but are not limited to: self-defense, unintentional injury, or false accusation.


A corporal injury charge may be dropped if you believe you acted out of self-defense, or in the defense of others. This means that the defendant believed there was possible danger of bodily injury, that the danger necessitated the use of physical force, and that the force used was reasonable as to counter the danger.

If this is the case, then you cannot be convicted of corporal injury.

Unintentional Injury

The law specifically states that the defendant must have purposely inflicted corporal injury upon the victim. Sometimes injuries can occur unintentionally. If the injury sustained by the victim was caused by accident, then you may not be charged or you may face reduced penalties.

If you did not willfully injury another person, then you cannot be convicted of corporal injury.

False Accusation

Due to the intimate and domestic nature of a corporal injury offense, the defendant may be falsely accused by someone they know. Often times, these false accusations result from emotional relationships and from jealousy, anger, or as a way to seek revenge.

With a false accusation defense, a defendant would need to prove that the accusations are baseless, or without warrant. This would include subpoenaing certain communications, interviews, and checking out the accuser’s background in order to prove that falsity of the accusations.

If you feel that you have been falsely accused of corporal injury, and can prove that the accuser has ulterior motives for the accusation, then the charges may be dropped.

Locating an Attorney Near Me to Help with This Charge

If you, or anyone you may know, have been charged with corporal injury, Domestic Violence Attorney can help. As one of the top firms in the Orange County area, we are ready to help you with our well-equipped and professional team of attorneys and staff members. We pride ourselves on being able to assist our clients on cases involving corporal injury or any other type of domestic violence. Do not wait to reach us at 714-888-4833 if you need help with a corporal injury chargeOur team wants to and is prepared to hear from you when you need help.