Corporal injury to a spouse is one of the more serious California domestic violence charges. It differs from domestic battery in that the alleged victim must have suffered a traumatic condition for the defendant to be guilty. Loosely defined, a traumatic condition is an injury. Legally defined, a traumatic condition is:
“A condition of the body, such as a wound, or internal or external injury, including, but not limited to, injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by physical force.”
The media depicts victims of domestic violence with black eyes and bruises. In reality, any type of injury—whether internal or external—could be grounds for a corporal injury to a spouse charge. The problem with this is a domestic violence accuser could claim the alleged aggressor injured him or her without having any external signs of injury. What is needed, however, are medical records to back up the allegations.
Examples of internal injuries include internal bleeding caused by a blunt force, traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by head trauma, and concussion, which is actually a common type of TBI. Strangulation can also cause internal injuries that are unseen to the eye. Neck lesions and bruises are always present with strangulation. Strangulation can damage soft tissues but also frequently restricts air and blood flow. This can cause loss of consciousness. Even a short period of unconsciousness is enough to cause TBI. Again, medical records are necessary in these cases to establish the injuries the accuser sustained.
Another type of unseen injury that could still result in domestic violence charges is psychological trauma. Over time, certain acts of aggression can cause psychological trauma in the victim. Medical records can again be useful in these cases to either prove or disprove the direct cause of the trauma, but it is also easy for the accuser to claim psychological trauma to gain the upper hand in the relationship.
Injuries can also complicate domestic violence cases in other ways. If you are convicted of a domestic violence offense, the judge might order you to pay victim restitution. When a victim suffers a traumatic condition (i.e., an injury), he or she may incur medical bills or need therapy to recover. It is not uncommon for a defendant to have to compensate the victim for these damages. Keep this in mind when facing domestic violence charges. There are many other consequences of domestic violence convictions, including:
- Mandatory 52 weeks of batterers' intervention classes
- Three years of probation
- Loss of firearm rights
- Payments to domestic violence programs
- Possible jail time
- Possible fine
- Potential for deportation or an effect on your immigrant status
- Protective order
Domestic violence charges are all too commonly the result of a false or exaggerated claim. When facing such allegations, it's important to take action quickly. If the accuser is claiming you injured him or her, a good first step is to try to obtain medical records that would corroborate the claim. If there are no existing medical records and no signs of injury, the accuser's word and the word of any witnesses will play a big role.
It's crucial to work with an experienced California domestic violence defense attorney in your area when facing domestic violence charges. California courts prosecute domestic violence cases aggressively and even have dedicated units that ensure these cases are handled extra carefully. If that wasn't enough to stack the odds against you, the judge rarely goes easy on domestic violence offenders. Thus, you should work with an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. An attorney can do a few things for you. He or she can explain California domestic violence laws and how they apply to your case. Your attorney can also thoroughly evaluate the facts and circumstances of your case and advise you on the best plan of action. You will also need an attorney to obtain necessary medical records, as these can be difficult to obtain on your own.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area, call experienced domestic violence defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you fight your charges and clear your name. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.