Corporal injury is a term that we often hear in press releases and media stories. Most of us hear the term and assume that it means something serious happens, but when we stop and really think about it, few of us can actually say what a corporal injury really is.
Corporal injuries really are as serious as they sound. The term always refers to a physical injury, and whenever the term is used, it indicates that the injury is both visible and verifiable. While there are times when it’s used for a minor injury, in all cases, the victim has sustained some sort of traumatic condition, though it’s not always a life-threatening injury. For example, a corporal injury could refer to a broken arm, or it could mean a serious head wound that will impact the rest of the victim’s life.
Corporal injuries are usually connected with violent crimes. They’re most commonly discussed in crimes that involve:
- DUI traffic accidents
- Domestic abuse situations
- Battery cases
One of the things that makes California unique is that it’s one of the few states that continues to use the term “corporal injury” in cases of domestic violence. The majority of other states have amended their laws and removed the term in favor of using terms/injuries that more accurately outline the exact injuries the victims suffered.
The reason corporal injury is such an important term in California’s legal system is because the use of the term immediately tells everyone involved with the case that it’s a more serious situation than if the victim suffered minor wounds.
Cases involving corporal injuries in California are wobbler cases. The details surrounding how the injury was obtained will dictate whether the suspect is charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
Don’t assume that just because the suspect was charged with a misdemeanor, they will get off lightly. The fact that the misdemeanor includes a corporal injury means that upon conviction, the judge could sentence the defendant to as much as a full year in a county jail and require that they pay fines up to $6,000.
In addition to criminal charges, the victim of a corporal injury also has the ability to file a civil case against the defendant. If the defendant loses the civil case, they’ll be required to pay for both actual and punitive damages.