Penal Code §273.5(a) and (b) set forth the elements of the crime of inflicting corporal injury on a designated party:

(1) A person willfully inflicts a physical injury on his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, co-parent, fiancé, fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant has, or previously had, a dating or engagement relationship; and

(2) The injury inflicted results in a traumatic condition.

“Willfully” means a willingness to commit the act. It does not require an intent to violate the law, to injure another, or to acquire an advantage. Pen C §7(1). Thus, Pen C §273.5 is a general intent crime, not a specific intent crime. People v Thurston (1999) 71 CA4th 1050, 1055, 84 CR2d 221. The assailant need only have the purpose or willingness to commit the act. People v Campbell (1999) 76 CA4th 305, 308, 90 CR2d 315, disapproved on other grounds by People v Farwell (2018) 5 C5th 292, 304 n6, 234 CR3d 434; and People v Burton (2015) 243 CA4th 129, 196 CR3d 392 (this is a general intent crime).

A defendant “willfully inflicts” a corporal injury on a person covered under Pen C §273.5 when a direct application of force by the defendant on the victim causes injury. People v Jackson (2000) 77 CA4th 574, 577-578, 91 CR2d 805. Thus, violation of the statute results only if the corporal injury results from a direct application of force on the victim by the defendant. 77 CA4th at 580 (victim was injured when she fell during attempt to escape from defendant; criminal liability under Pen C §273.5 does not extend to direct, natural, and probable consequences of the criminal touching). See also People v Johnson (2007) 150 CA4th 1467, 59 CR3d 405; People v Valenzuela (2010) 191 CA4th 316, 321, 119 CR3d 340; People v Warwick (2010) 182 CA4th 788, 794, 106 CR3d 133; People v Delarosarauda (2014) 227 CA4th 205, 213, 173 CR3d 512.

The Legislature amended the general statute of limitations for felony violations of Pen C §273.5, effective January 1, 2020, to extend the statute of limitations to 5 years, effective on that date. Pen C §803.7.


Who Does the Criminal Domestic Violence Statute Apply to?



(1) The offender’s spouse or former spouse.

(2) The offender’s cohabitant or former cohabitant.

(3) The offender’s fiancé or fiancée, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship, as defined in paragraph (10) of subdivision (f) of Section 243.

(4) The mother or father of the offender’s child.

Let’s Start Something new
Say Hello!

Let us evaluate your case.