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Corporal Injury to Spouse or Cohabitant

PC 273.5(a)


California Domestic Violence Crimes & Defense


The most common domestic violence criminal charge in California is found at Penal Code Section 273.5(a). To be found guilty of PC 273.5(a) the prosecutor must prove that the defendant willfully inflicted an injury to his or her spouse or cohabitant, which resulted in traumatic condition.


For purposes of PC 273.5(a) a spouse may be a current or former spouse and a cohabitant is a person who is unrelated to the defendant. Also, according to PC 273.5(a), a cohabitant may be proved by long-term living together, sharing of expenses or income, persons holding themselves out to be in a relationship, etc.


A "traumatic condition" as used in PC 273.5(a) means a wound or bodily injury, even a minor injury, which was directly caused by the defendant. Soft tissue injuries and unapparent injuries will not suffice to charge PC 273.5(a) against the defendant. In the case of unapparent injury to spouse or cohabitant the district attorney will usually file misdemeanor domestic violence charges under PC 243(e)(1) as an alternative.


PC 273.5(a) may be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony but the charge is almost always filed as a felony. Whether or not the district attorney files a misdemeanor or felony version of PC 273.5(a) depends on many factors, including the level of injury sustained to the victim and the criminal history of the defendant. As stated above, if there is no injury noticed on the victim in a domestic violence case the district attorney will generally file misdemeanor domestic violence charges under PC 243(e)(1). 


If found guilty of the crime of corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant under PC 273.5(a) the defendant may face up to four years in prison (as a felony). PC 273.5(a) is not considered a "strike" according to California Three Strikes Law and if found guilty of the crime the defendant is entitled to "day for day" credit (1 day credit for every day served in prison). 


PC 273.5(a) is "prison sentence" (as distinguished from a "jail sentence"): a prison sentence must be served in a California state prison as opposed to a county jail. This is true even if the defendant ultimately serves only a short prison sentence such as a couple of months.


In addition to any possible prison sentence mentioned above, if convicted of PC 273.5(a), the defendant may be ordered to attend domestic violence batterers classes, pay enormous fines, be placed on probation (or parole after a prison sentence), have domestic violence restraining orders issued, lose his or her professional or occupational license, lose his or her immigration status (for non-U.S. citizens), restitution orders, CPS and family law legal problems, and more.


Defenses to the charge of corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant under PC 273.5(a) include improper police procedure, insufficient evidence to prove the prosecutor's case, defense of other people (including the victim), necessity (necessary injury to prevent a greater harm), self-defense, and more.

However, under PC 273.5(a), the fact that the victim changes his or her mind about "pressing charges" is not a defense to the crime. In fact, in PC 273.5(a) cases, the district attorney is always ready to deal with the fact that many victims of domestic violence have a change of heart against pressing charges against the defendant.

When the alleged victim does not desire prosecution the District Attorney will often proceed with prosecuting a PC 273.5 charge if there are 911 calls, third-party witnesses, evidence of injury, and statements made to police at the time of the alleged abuse. 


Finally, PC 273.5(a) may be charged against a defendant who has a prior conviction of PC 273.5(a), but the California legislature has passed new laws which allow the district attorney to file a separate domestic charge under PC 273.5(f)(1). This new charge carries a prison sentence of up to five years (as opposed to up to four years under PC 273.5(a). 


If you or a love one is charged with domestic violence, or corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant under PC 273.5(a), contact domestic violence criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado today. Attorney Dorado will explain your rights, defense options, and the law regarding PC 273.5(a). 


Attorney Dorado and his crew are experienced and aggressive; 100% of attorney Dorado's practice is devoted to criminal defense and private in-office or in-jail consultations are provided at no cost to the accused.   




Closely Associated Charges to PC 273.5(a) Include:


PC 243(e)(1) battery to spouse or cohabitant; PC 273.5(f)(1) Inflicting Corporal Injury to Spouse or Cohabitant; 273.6(a) Disobey a Court Order in a Domestic Violence case.

California Penal Code 273.5(a) & 273.5(f)(1) Domestic Violence / Corporal Injury to Spouse or Cohabitant


Law Office of Christopher Dorado 1030 Nevada Street. Suite 105 Redlands, CA. 92374