Corporal Injury to Spouse – Is it the Same as Domestic Violence?

Although domestic violence against women receives the lion’s share of attention, the laws defining it have broadened to reflect modern family dynamics. Even up until a few years ago, same-sex unions, domestic partnerships, and co-parents living in separate homes were viewed differently in terms of legal protection in some states. Most domestic violence shelters are still restricted to women only, but that is also changing.

A judge will determine bail at a hearing after an arrest. Other conditions for release will be ordered during this initial court appearance, including mandatory no-contact orders for up to 72 hours in some jurisdictions. As with most crimes, eligibility and the bond amount depends upon the circumstances, severity, and past legal history of the accused. The process remains the same, with most bonding companies requiring a 10 percent cash deposit unless the court orders the full amount.

Bail must be arranged through a licensed bonding agent, but the actual bond itself can be paid by a friend or family member. Some bail bond companies might also require vehicles or real property as collateral. The person putting up the bond is responsible for making sure the accused makes all court appearances if they don’t want to lose their money and property.

But, what defines domestic violence, and are there different degrees and punishments for this offense?

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a broad term defined as a pattern of behavior in any domestic relationship used to maintain power and control over another. It’s also called domestic abuse or intimate partner violence and can include intimidation, financial control, or emotional abuse. Most people think of it in terms of domestic violence against women, but victims can include husbands, exes, children, parents, and siblings. The underlying factor is a familial or intimate relationship.

If domestic violence is defined as any threat or use of force against a household member, then what is the corporal injury?

Corporal Injury to Spouse and Legal Consequences

Domestic violence laws in California define corporal injury under penal codes 273.5(a), 243(e)(1), and 273d, which are specifically listed as corporal injury to a child.

The main difference between corporal injury and domestic violence or spousal battery is the degree of harm and extent of the injuries. Under domestic violence laws in California, three conditions must be met for a charge of spousal corporate injury:

• Traumatic condition as a natural consequence of physical injury
• Injury as a direct, substantial factor in causing trauma
• That trauma would not have occurred otherwise

Such traumatic injury is considered if the victim:

• Is attacked with a weapon
• Suffers fractures, sprains, or concussion
• Suffers lacerations, bruising, or bleeding, including internal bleeding

Not included under this classification are property damage, emotional stress, physical pain without a visible injury, and PTSD. Simple domestic battery is charged if there is offensive touching or verbal abuse, even if there is no visible injury.

For example, someone could be charge with domestic battery for threatening a domestic partner or pushing them during an argument. The charge is bumped up to corporal injury if the push results in a broken arm. Grabbing someone by the arm is domestic violence. Doing it with enough force to leave a bruise is corporal injury.

Under California law, a domestic partner is classified as:

• Spouses or former spouses and fiancées
• Current or former registered domestic partners
• Boy/girlfriends or exes
• Current or former co-habitants
• Parent of the accused’s children

Under penal code 273.5, the crime can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor convictions will result in jail for up to one year and fined up to $6,000. If the accused is convicted of felonious corporal injury, the penalty is 2-4 years in state prison and fines up to $6,000. The judge can also order counseling or anger management and a restraining order as a condition of release.

Courts will also take intent under consideration. For example, the corporal injury will be excluded if the injury occurred as the result of self-defense or was accidental, such as tripping over something and unintentionally knocking into the other person.

The most important factor for curbing domestic violence is education. October is officially Domestic violence Awareness Month, but violence against intimate partners can happen any time. It’s important for all of us to know the laws, consequences, and available resources surrounding this issue.