What Is Corporal Injury on a Spouse in California?

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Police and prosecutors take domestic violence allegations seriously. So do judges.

A conviction for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse carries significant jail time and other harsh consequences such as a hefty fine and losing your gun rights for life.

However, you need to remember that you have rights, including the presumption of innocence.

Having a lawyer who aggressively defends the rights of people like you could put you in a position to get the best possible outcome for your case.

At The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we understand what you are up against. For 45 years, our San Diego domestic violence lawyers have fought vigorously to defend our clients.

We rely on the experience gained from bringing over 100 cases to jury trial when representing people like you, and we will fight relentlessly to protect your rights. To get started, contact us today.

What Is Corporal Injury on a Spouse?

According to California Penal Code §273.5, a corporal injury is an injury inflicted by one person on another when the individuals are or were engaged in a specified domestic relationship.

Such an injury must result in a “traumatic condition.” To qualify for prosecution under this section, the parties must be:

  • Spouses or former spouses;
  • Current or former cohabitants;
  • Engaged, formerly engaged, in a dating relationship; or
  • The parents of a child.

The law does not require the parties to hold themselves out to others as spouses to meet the legal definition of cohabitation.

In some cases, the question whether the parties are cohabitants is an issue for the jury.

A prosecution under Penal Code §273.5 requires proof of a “traumatic condition.”

The statute defines a traumatic condition as any wound, external injury, internal injury, strangulation, or suffocation caused by applying physical force.

Additionally, strangulation and suffocation mean cutting off blood circulation or impeding breathing by using pressure on the throat or neck of the victim.

Potential Punishment for Corporal Injury on a Spouse

The punishment for a conviction can be harsh. This is a wobbler offense in California—meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the specific facts of the case.

If the court treats your case as a misdemeanor, the judge could sentence you to the county jail for up to one year and assess a fine of up to $6,000.

However, the judge can send you to state prison for two, three, or four years if they determine that your actions rise to the level of a felony.

How the judge sentences you will depend mainly on the facts of the case and your prior record. The judge can put you on probation, which might involve participating in counseling, paying restitution, or performing community service.

Penal Code section 273.5(j) requires that a judge consider issuing a restraining order for up to 10 years after a conviction.

To protect the victim, the restraining order terms could prevent you from seeing your children, throw you out of your house, and prevent you from visiting specific locations. 

Contact Our Award-Winning San Diego Defense Lawyers Today

San Diego defense lawyer Kerry L. Armstrong has won numerous awards.

He has achieved the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell AV rating and is one of the few board-certified legal specialists in criminal defense practicing in the San Diego County area.

Kerry and our dedicated defense lawyers are committed to alleviating or minimizing the negative impact your criminal charges might have on your life.

Call us today at 619-234-2300 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.

Where You Can Find Our San Diego Office Location

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Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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