Corporal Injury | California Penal Code 273.5(a) PC

January 8, 2016

In California, inflicting corporal injury to another is charged under Penal Code 273.5(a) pc.  The offense makes it unlawful to willfully inflict injury upon another resulting in a traumatic condition.[1]  To sustain this charge, the accuser must have some relationship nexus with the defendant.  Moreover, a relationship may be a spouse, cohabitant, former boyfriend or girlfriend, parent of a child, and more.[2]

Common examples of corporal injury charges include chocking, striking (punching or pushing), or other contact resulting in physical injury, concussion, or unconsciousness.[3]  Consequently, a person will find themselves arrested with a bail amount set between $50,000 to $100,000 and an imposed protective order barring all contact with the accuser.

Corporal injury is typically a wobbler where the prosecutor holds discretion when electing to file felony or misdemeanor charges.  If the alleged victim suffers great bodily injury as a result of the encounter, then the prosecutor may allege an enhancement elevating the charge as a “strike” applied to California’s Three Strike laws.  Those arrested for corporal injury may also find themselves charged with other related domestic violence offenses including assault, battery, domestic battery, criminal threats, violating a restraining order.

man in handcuffs


According to CALCRIM 840, in order for you to be found guilty of Corporal Injury (PC 273.5), the prosecutor holds the burden of proving each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You willfully and unlawfully inflicted a physical injury on a [victim];
  1. The physical injury resulted in a traumatic condition;
  1. You were not acting in self-defense or defense of another.[4]


  • Willful Conduct: You did not act willfully with the intent to cause injury to another. Instead, you may have accidentally caused injury to your wife, girlfriend, or cohabitant.  For example, you slipped on the floor while simultaneously grabbing your significant other for balance and as a result, they fell to the floor causing significant injury.  Physical contact with your accuser may also result on accident or misfortune which is not punishable by law.
  • False Accusations: The alleged victim is exaggerating or fabricating the circumstances against you for ulterior purposes. For instance, to gain child custody, revenge after an affair, or for financial gain.  Unfortunately, many people utilize the system in an effort to gain an advantage against someone.
  • Self-Defense: Acting in self-defense or defending another is a common among domestic violence disputes.  In this instance, documenting and photographing any cuts, bruises, or markings you received is critical as evidence tending to show there was a physical altercation causing injuries to both parties.  Just because your accuser is smaller than you does not absolve the ability to claim self-defense.  Every person has an absolute right to defending themselves regardless of the size or build of their accuser.
  • Traumatic Condition: Your accuser is hypersensitive and was not objectively placed in a traumatic condition. The law requires that your accuser suffer a “traumatic condition” over the ordeal based on the reasonable person standard. In other words, if a reasonable person would not be placed in a traumatic condition over the incident, then you will be not guilty of this offense.



PC 273.5(a) is punishable in either the county jail or state prison as outlined below.  In addition to custody, the court typically places someone on probation, imposes a protective order barring contact with the accuser, and imposes 52 weeks’ worth of anger management and domestic violence counseling.  Furthermore, a conviction this offense carries a life-time restriction on a person’s right to own or possess a firearm regardless if the conviction is later expunged.

Felony Sentencing Guideline:

  • 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison
  • A fine up to $6,000
  • Restitution

Misdemeanor consequences:

  • Up to 1 year in the county jail
  • A fine up to $6,000
  • Restitution


Because of the severe penalties following a conviction for corporal injury, it’s important to retain an attorney at the cases earliest juncture.  If you’ve been arrested or charged with inflicting corporal injury (PC 273.5), contact an Newport Beach Criminal Defense Attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free confidential consultation concerning your right and defenses.  Our office handles all domestic violence cases throughout southern California including Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties.




[1] California Penal Code 273.5(a) defined – (“(a) Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim described in subdivision (b) is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.”)

[2] (b) Subdivision (a) shall apply if the victim is or was one or more of the following: (1) The offender’s spouse or former spouse. (2) The offender’s cohabitant or former cohabitant. (3) The offender’s fiancé or fiancée, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship, as defined in paragraph (10) of subdivision (f) of Section 243. (4) The mother or father of the offender’s child.

[3]  “Traumatic Condition” defined under Penal Code 273.5(d) – (“(d) As used in this section, “traumatic condition” means a condition of the body, such as a wound, or external or internal injury, including, but not limited to, injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by a physical force. For purposes of this section, “strangulation” and “suffocation” include impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a person by applying pressure on the throat or neck.”)


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