California Penal Code 12022.7 PC
PC 12022.7 – Enhancement for Great Bodily Injury
Enhancement for Great Bodily Injury – Table of Contents
Any felony conviction can result in serious penalties, including a period of incarceration in state prison for over a year. There are many factors that a judge must consider when imposing a sentence, including the laws enacted by the legislation such as CA Penal Code section 12022.7 PC which requires a sentence enhancement for certain felony convictions that include ‘great bodily injury’.
Not surprisingly, the legislature has mandated additional punishment for convictions that result in significant or substantial injuries to a victim.
According to CA Penal Code 12022.7 PC, a court shall impose a sentence enhancement for felony convictions that result in great bodily injury to the victim. In other words, because of the significant injury suffered by the victim, the court shall order a longer prison sentence of three to six years in addition to the prison term required for the underlying felony.
Certainly, this can result in a much longer prison term since the sentences are to be served consecutively, not concurrently, which means the second term starts only after the first term is completed. Therefore, you must have an experienced criminal defense attorney review the facts of the case and argue for the least amount of time possible.
First, CA Penal Code 12022.7 PC provides a sentence enhancement only for felonies, not misdemeanors. So, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, PC 12022.7 does not apply. Certainly, an experienced criminal defense attorney can not only help you win your case, but can negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor, which would eliminate the risk of a sentence enhancement under PC 12022.7.
Second, CA Penal Code 12022.7(f) PC requires “great bodily injury,” which is not the same as “serious bodily injury.” This is an example of how the penal code can be highly technical and how an experienced criminal defense attorney is necessary to understand the crime you are accused of, and the potential punishment.
More specifically, “great bodily injury” is defined under state law as a “significant or substantial physical injury.” Because the injury must be physical, great bodily injury does not include any emotional or mental trauma.
Moreover, great bodily injury does not include a moderate or minor physical injury. While this does include physical trauma resulting in brain damage, paralysis, coma or other significant physical injury, the statute does not require the injury be permanent or severe.
Third, the statute requires that the defendant actually causes the injury. In other words, if the injury is inflicted by a co-defendant or the result of the defendant’s direction or instruction, CA Penal Code 12022.7 PC does not apply. Significantly, PC 12022.7 also applies to attempted felonies that result in great bodily injury. In other words, the underlying felony need not be completed, only that the victim suffered great bodily injury.
Finally, CA Penal Code 12022.7 PC does not apply to certain felonies such as arson, manslaughter, murder, or felonies that have great bodily injury as an element. Common felonies that result in a sentence enhancement under PC 12022.7 include:
- Elder Abuse
- Domestic Violence
- Driving Under the Influence
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Certain Sex Crimes
Courts will consider the specific facts of the case to determine whether there was great bodily injury. Certainly, courts will consider whether medical attention was required as well as the severity and pain of the injury. The following injuries are examples that courts have found to be great bodily injury and trigger a sentence enhancement under CA PC 12022.7 PC:
- broken or fractured bone(s)
- swollen, bruised black eye
- dog bite
- contusions, swelling and discoloration
- gunshot wounds
- passing out from strangulation or
- vaginal bruising and abrasions due to sexual assault
As mentioned, the law does distinguish between “great bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury.” Broadly, serious bodily injury is the result of criminal battery and the victim suffers a serious injury, not great bodily injury. In other words, during the commission of a criminal battery, the defendant causes serious injury, which is generally considered more moderate than a great bodily injury.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid not only a conviction for any underlying felony charge, but can also ensure that any inevitable conviction does not result in a sentence enhancement under CA Penal Code 12022.7 PC. As mentioned, because PC 12022.7 does not apply to misdemeanor convictions, your attorney could persuade the prosecutor to drop a felony charge or reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.
Also, an experienced defense attorney can review the case for strengths and weaknesses and argue that charges be dropped or the case be dismissed.
If a case does go to trial, an experienced criminal defense attorney will work for an acquittal, or if the prosecutor has a particularly strong case, work for a misdemeanor conviction which would result in a sentence of less than one year in jail (if any incarceration) and not sentence enhancement pursuant to CA Penal Code 12022.7.
Certainly, under PC 12022.7, a sentence enhancement for Great Bodily Injury is not appropriate if:
- you did not personally inflict the injury
- there was no great bodily injury or
- the injury was minor or merely a serious bodily injury
If you or a loved one is being charged with a felony with and a potential sentence enhancement due to great bodily injury, Penal Code 12022.7 PC, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP.
We can provide a free consultation in our office, or by phone. Our experienced and assiduous Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.
Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.
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