California Penal Code §273.5 makes it unlawful to inflict corporal bodily injury against someone with which the offender has a familial relationship with the alleged victim. Unlike domestic violence battery, an injury has to occur for a person to be charged under California Penal Code §273.5. If there has been no injury, simple the use of force of violence, the charge would be under California Penal Code § 243 (e)(1).
Under California Penal code §273.5, any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim with whom they have a relationship as defined in this code section shall be guilty of a felony.
The key under this code section is that the person must willfully, have inflicted an actual injury on the alleged victim for it to qualify as domestic violence. In addition, the person being charged with the offense and the victim must have one of the following relationships:
• The offender’s spouse or former spouse.
• The offender’s cohabitant or former cohabitant.
• The offender’s fiance or fiancee, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship,
• The mother or father of the offender’s child.
• Holding oneself out to be the husband or wife of the person with whom one is cohabiting is not necessary to constitute cohabitation as the term is used in this section.
If one of these relationships do not exist, then the charge would not be brought under this particular code section. There would still be a charge, but likely as assault under a different code section of the California Penal Code.
The code section also defines a range of potential consequences, or sentencing guidelines. A person who has been found guilty and has been convicted of domestic violence shall face a fine of up to $6,000, up to four years in jail or prison, or both. The reason the legislature has provided a range is because the facts of each case are different. A Judge will use his discretion, based upon the facts of the case and the person’s criminal background, before ordering a specific sentence .
Let’s consider an example. Harold and his wife Wilma get into an argument. In anger, Harold throws a beer bottle at Wilma and it strikes her in the face, causing her to bleed. Wilma has suffered serious injuries and is immediately taken to the emergency room. Wilma calls the police, and they arrive, arresting Harold. This is the second time that Harold has been arrested by officers for domestic violence. After a trial is held, Harold is found guilty. The Judge will likely order a sentence on the higher end of the scale because Harold has a previous history of domestic violence and his actions caused serious injury to Wilma.
If you find yourself facing a charge under this code section of the penal code, take it very seriously. It is a felony, and if there was any actual injury, it is likely it will be charged as such. It is important to consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney as soon as possible!