Penal code § 273.5 (Infliction of injury on present or former spouse or cohabitant or parent of child) is another subset of punishable domestic violence in California, where the particular violence results in serious injury to the alleged victim. The statute, part of California Law, makes it illegal to willfully inflict upon a person (the defendant's current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, or co-parent of a child, or in an otherwise defined domestic relationship), "corporal" or serious injury causing a "traumatic condition."

This offense is a "wobbler," meaning it is punishable as a felony or misdemeanor. If a felony is charged the conviction can result in imprisonment in state prison for up to four years. If the case is filed or negotiated down to a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for a conviction is one year in the county jail. As with a conviction for either a felony or a misdemeanor, various fines up to $6,000 can result.

In addition to the basic definition, if one has previously been convicted of certain domestic violence offenses, the punishment drastically increases. This can include imprisonment in the state prison for up to five years and a fine of $10,000. Of course, like all crimes, if an individual has prior strikes, prison priors, or used a dangerous or deadly weapon in the commission of the crime, the punishments can go up even further.

Since Pen C § 273.5 (abuse of cohabitant of opposite sex), applies to "corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition," and a traumatic condition can be a wound or internal or external injury, minor or serious in nature, caused by physical force, a defendant who inflicts only "minor" injury violates the statute. By contrast, felony battery requires bodily injury serious in nature (see Pen C § 243, subd. (d)) and felony assault requires force most likely to result in great bodily injury (see Pen C § 245, subd. (a)). Pen C § 273.5 requires a lesser showing of harm so officers can intervene more expeditiously in domestic disputes. In other words, the legislature has clothed persons of the opposite sex in intimate relationships with greater protection by requiring less harm to be inflicted before the offense is committed. People v. Silva (1994, Cal App 5th Dist) 27 Cal App 4th 1160.

In many cases involving domestic battery, even in those involving serious injury to the alleged victim, the alleged victim often wants nothing to do with the prosecution. Shortly after the incident, people often reconcile, they move on with their lives, bills have to be paid, children have to be cared for, and this requires a joint effort. This joint effort requires the union of the arrestee and the alleged victim. The law will do everything in its power to prevent this union, including issuing protective orders to keep the arrestee and the alleged victim and his or her family apart. Some people are under the mistaken belief that the alleged victim can simply call off the charges or convince the prosecution to dismiss the case. In Southern California, the prosecution will not dismiss the case simply because the victim does not desire prosecution. In fact, the prosecution is accustomed to this fact and it will not serve as a deterrent to a criminal prosecution. The only effective deterrent is an effective lawyer.

At BRUNO│NALU, we understand that the criminal justice system puts the accuser ahead of the accused. Mr. Bruno is a husband and father of two. He understands the family dynamic firsthand. We are ready and well qualified to investigate and litigate your case. If you have been accused of spousal abuse, contact our Orange County-based criminal defense firm. We offer a free, face-to-face consultation and can work out a payment plan in most situations.