Willful infliction of injury, also known as “spousal abuse,” is a California domestic violence offense that can be applied to any type of intimate partners. This can include couples who are married or divorced, living together or formerly living together, or have children in common. The laws apply to both heterosexual couples and same-sex partnerships. If an individual willfully inflicts any injury, no matter how minor, upon the body of an intimate partner, he or she can be charged with a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $6,000. This charge can be brought against a defendant even if he or she barely touched the intimate partner.
Every crime has specific “elements” (facts) that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction against the defendant. Each element of the charge must be independently proved or else the jury must vote “Not Guilty.” In order to find the accused guilty of infliction of injury, the prosecutor must prove three elements.
The first element is that the defendant inflicted bodily injury upon his or her intimate partner. This means that the “victim’s” injury resulted from direct force applied by the accused. It doesn’t matter how slight the force was, only that some amount of force was used.
The second element that must be proved is that the infliction of injury was willful. “Willful” means that the individual had the willingness to inflict force. Willingness has nothing to do with the amount of force used or the physical result of the force; it only deals with the willingness to simply carry out the act. In a situation where the accused willfully used force in self-defense or in the defense of others, he or she is not guilty of this crime. It is the prosecutor’s burden to prove that the willful force was unlawful and not for one of the reasons stated above.
The final element of this charge is that the injury resulted in a “traumatic condition.” A traumatic condition means that the accused’s force caused an external or internal injury to his or her partner. The injury could be minor or serious. Basically, this means that any injury, no matter how slight, that wasn’t there before the defendant applied the force to his or her partner’s body will qualify.
Remember, in order to convict a criminal defendant on any charge, the prosecutor must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, a criminal conviction requires that all twelve members of the jury must be convinced that the charges are true. That means that if just one juror isn’t completely convinced of the defendant’s guilt, the jury cannot return a conviction. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will aggressively defend the accused partner’s rights and sow the seeds of reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors.
An infliction of injury conviction is no joke. An accusation can be devastating emotionally and financially, and a conviction carries severe penalties. To best avoid these consequences, it is imperative that an accused hires a skilled defense attorney who knows the most effective ways to refute this crime’s elements. In order to secure the best representation from a firm who has successfully defended countless domestic abuse cases, contact the attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm for a free consultation.