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Enhanced Penalties for Causing Great Bodily Injury In Domestic Violence Cases

The penalties for domestic violence may be severe and include probation, anger management counseling programs, batterers’ treatment counseling programs, and jail or prison time. If an individual charged with a domestic violence crime is also accused of causing serious or great bodily injury to another person during this act of domestic violence, three to five years may be added to any sentence for a felony conviction.

Many individuals who are arrested for allegedly committing a domestic violence offense are cited with corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant (California Penal Code § 273.5), punishable as a felony or domestic battery (California Penal Code § 243(e), also punishable as a felony. Corporal injury to a spouse is normally punishable as a felony by up to four years in state prison and a $6,000 fine. Domestic battery is normally punishable as a felony of one year in state prison and a $1,000 fine.

The act of causing great bodily harm to another person is not a crime but a sentencing enhancement. Its applicability arises when a person convicted of a criminal offense causes another person to suffer great bodily harm during the commission of the criminal act.

California Penal Code § 12022.7 authorizes judges to impose longer prison sentences when defendants cause great bodily injury. Note that a defendant causing such a serious injury to himself or an accomplice does not trigger the applicability of this additional penalty. It is also important to note that a great bodily injury enhancement will only apply if the sustained injury is more severe than the type of injury that would typically result from the underlying offense.

The term “great bodily injury” refers solely to physical injuries rather than emotional or financial harm. The injury does not have to be permanent or severe to be considered sufficiently “great” or “severe” under the statute. Great bodily injury is determined on a case-by-case basis typically based on an analysis of the severity of the injury, the resulting pain, and any required medical care.

A great bodily injury is a substantial or significant injury. It may include the following injuries:

  • Broken bones;
  • Gunshot wounds;
  • Severe scarring or disfigurement;
  • Severe contusions and swelling;
  • Severe concussion;
  • Strangulation to the extent that the victim loses consciousness or almost loses consciousness;
  • Knife wounds;
  • Blistering or second-degree burns;
  • Loss of an appendage, member, or organ;
  • Internal organ damage;

Defendants accused of inflicting great bodily injury during a domestic violence crime are subject to receiving a strike under California’s three-strikes law. Thus, if convicted of a subsequent offense that is a violent or serious felony, the sentence will be doubled.

The sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury may be further enhanced if the following occur:

  • Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on a person who is 70 years of age or older in the commission of a felony or attempted felony is subject to an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for five years.
  • Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on a child under the age of five years in the commission of a felony or attempted felony is subject to an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for four, five, or six years.
  • Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury under circumstances involving domestic violence in the commission of a felony or attempted felony is subject to an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or five years.

Criminal law specialist John Patrick Dolan protects the rights of those charged with any crime. Mr. Dolan has over forty years of experience working to help his clients obtain the best resolution possible when freedom and reputation are at stake. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.

Enhanced Penalties for Causing Great Bodily Injury In Domestic Violence Cases

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