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Great Bodily Injury Enhancement – California Penal Code 12022.7

Posted by Philip Israels | Nov 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

California Penal Code 12022.7 describes a great bodily injury enhancement which means if you are convicted of a felony crime,  you could face additional punishment.

It should be noted the prosecutor must allege a sentencing enhancement, which typically occurs in a situation where you are accused of inflicting great bodily injury in the commission of a felony crime, or any attempt to commit a felony.

It should also be noted that causing great bodily injury (GBI) on another person is NOT a crime in itself – but a sentencing enhancement. If the prosecutor can prove a GBI enhancement, you are facing a consecutive 3 to 6 years in a California state prison – in addition to the sentence for the underlying crime.

A “great bodily injury” means there were significant or substantial physical injuries – but the injuries don't have to be permanent – and what exactly is a GBI is normally determined on an individual case basis. Normal factors to determine a GBI are the level of pain and whether there was a necessity for medical treatment. In other words, the definition of GBI is broad and vague and left up to a jury to decide.

An example of a PC 12022.7 GBI enhancement includes domestic violence charges. For instance, PC 273.5 corporal injury on a spouse is frequently charged where there are GBI allegations. If there were significant injuries sustained on your spouse – broken bones or injuries that require medical treatment – this type of situation qualify as a sentencing enhancement.

To give readers useful information about a great bodily injury enhancement, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Definition of a PC 12022.7 Great Bodily Injury Enhancement

California Penal Code 12022.7 PC defines a great bodily injury sentencing enhancement:

  • Any person who inflicts a great bodily injury on another person, not an accomplice, while committing, or attempting, to commit a felony crime will be punished by an additional and consecutive term of three years in prison.

As stated, “great bodily injury” is a defined as a significant or substantial physical injury, and would include serious bruising or wounds, concussion, broken bones, and other serious injuries. It doesn't include causing an injury to yourself or an accomplice to the crime.

A GBI enhancement only applies if the injury is more severe than an injury that would have normally resulted from the underlying crime.

California Penal Code 12022.8 PC defines a great bodily injury from the result of certain sex crimes:

  • Any person who inflicts a Penal Code 12022.7 great bodily injury on a victim that violates Penal Code 220 involving certain sexual offenses such as rape, sodomy, child molestation, oral copulation by force, violence, duress, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim will receive an additional five-year sentencing enhancement for each violation.

An example would include getting a victim pregnant or spreading a sexually transmitted disease, among other injuries sustained during the commission of a sex crime.

When a GBI Enhancement Doesn't Apply

There are many situations where a Penal Code Section 12022.7 great bodily injury sentencing enhancement would not apply. It only applies in a situation where you were charged with a felony crime – misdemeanor charges are not eligible.  GBI enhancement would NOT apply in these scenarios:

  • Victim suffered only minor or moderate injury
  • You were not committing a felony crime, or attempting to
  • You did not personally inflict the injury
  • You were charged with PC 187 murder or attempted murder
  • You were charged with VC 20001 felony hit and run
  • Underlying crime contains an element of “great bodily injury”
  • DUI car accident with GBI, but would face similar charges

Underlying Offenses for GBI Enhancement

As stated, a great bodily injury enhancement only applies in a situation where the victim's injuries are more severe than an injury that would have normally resulted from the underlying crime, such as these California offenses:

Penal Code 242 – Battery
Penal Code 245(a)(1) – Assault with Deadly Weapon
Penal Code 273.5 – Corporal Injury on Spousal
Penal Code 273d – Child Abuse
Penal Code 368 – Elder Abuse

Sentencing Enhancement for Great Bodily Injury

Again, California Penal Code 12022.7 only applies to if you were committing, or attempting, to commit a felony offense.

The default sentencing enhancement is an additional 3 years in a California state prison – but it's crucial to note the use of the word “additional.” This simply means it adds to your sentencing for the underlying felony conviction.  It also runs consecutively to that sentence.  There are several scenarios where you can face more than the default additional time of three years in state prison.

For example, you could face an additional five consecutive years in prison for a felony offense causing a serious GBI – such as complete loss of motor function to their nervous system, such as paralysis.

If the victim is over 70 years old, are also facing an additional punishment of five consecutive years. If the victim is less than 5 years old, a victim of domestic violence or sex crime, an additional 4, 5, or 6 consecutive years

Under California's three strikes law - a great bodily injury enhancement will not just count as a “strike” on your criminal record – it could also result in an additional and consecutive 3 to 6 years in a California state prison.

The overview above clearly shows a California Penal Code 12022.7 great bodily injury sentencing enhancement is a serious issue and could result in life-altering consequences.

If you were accused of committing a serious felony crime that might make you eligible for a GBI enhancement, you should consult with our criminal defense lawyers to review the details of your case and options. Based on the details of you case, we can start planning a strategy for best possible outcome.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We offer a free case evaluation by calling (424) 372-3112.

About the Author

Philip Israels

Phil Israels was raised in California's Central Valley where he still has family. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley where he was a member for Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and studied Economics, he continued his education...

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