June 13, 2018 4:37 pm Published by

Understanding California Criminal Jury Instructions 840 – Inflicting Injury on Spouse Resulting in Traumatic Condition

When it comes to domestic violence cases in Los Angeles, one of the biggest things that the good criminal defense attorneys do is they look at the jury instructions. The reason for this is because the jury instructions is what will ultimately be used if a criminal case goes to trial. The Judge will instruct the jury on each of the elements that must be proved in order to find somebody guilty of a domestic violence case. These jury instructions cover a lot of ground. In other words, they’re covering all kinds of different situations – spousal abuse, domestic violence, boyfriend/girlfriend situations, boyfriend/boyfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, people who are just living together and obviously married people. They’re going to have to cover everything. When it comes to these things, I like to break these things down. The first element in order to prove somebody guilty of domestic violence in LA, is that the defendant must willfully or unlawfully inflict a physical injury on another person – whether that’s their spouse, former spouse, current spouse, someone they’re cohabitating with or even a child. So, that’s number 1. So, what does that mean? You have to actually do something that causes some damage. That’s why when police come out to the scene of a crime, they’re taking photographs because they want to see some sort of a mark, a laceration, an injury, in order to be able to prove this first element, because if you can’t prove that you have caused some sort of injury to a person, then it’s just going to be he said/she said and they’re going to be saying one thing on one side and one thing on another side, then how is a jury supposed to figure that out. Well, they need some sort of a physical injury. If they don’t have it, they’re not going to be able to prove element no. 1, and without proving element no. 1, then the person would win that domestic violence or spousal abuse case in one of the LA courts. See related: California Criminal Jury Instructions 840 – Inflicting Injury on Spouse Resulting in Traumatic Condition.

Physical Injuries

The second thing that has to be proved is that the injury inflicted by the defendant resulted in a traumatic condition. What does that mean? That means you have to actually do some sort of damage there. Pushing and shoving – though technically that might just be a simple battery -if you’re really going to try to get somebody for this spousal abuse section which carries all kinds of horrible ramifications – 52-week domestic violence case, jail in some circumstances, a 10-year weapon ban, probation for three years – there’s a whole slew of things that come along. So, if they cannot prove this traumatic injury then they’re not going to be able to prove element no. 3. Also, if the defendant is claiming self-defense or defense of another, then that can be a complete defense to the crime of spousal abuse or domestic violence. The final element that has to be proved is that they have to show that the defendant did not act in self-defense or defense of another. If they can’t prove that, then it’s not going to be a criminal case. This happens all the time. One spouse attacks another, the other spouse is trying to fend the other person off and during that – because the other person is going so crazy – that person ends up getting hurt. If you’re defending yourself and you’re using reasonable force to do so, you’re good.

Use of Reasonable Force

Of course, the key is using reasonable force. If you’re not using reasonable force – if someone’s pushing you and you punch them in the face as hard as you can – that’s probably going too far. If someone’s trying to hit you and you grab a weapon – a knife or some other weapon and you beat the person multiple times – you’ve gone too far. So, the bottom line is this. These domestic violence cases are very politically charged, and they’re being charged all over LA County and the prosecutors will not let them go. People think they’re going to let them go because the other person says they don’t want to prosecute it now – no, the prosecutors don’t care. So, you have to look at the jury instructions to see if the person can actually prove the case. There are all sorts of different elements that have to be proved in these cases and there are bench notes and there are different jury instructions that can be given. I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I’ve had a lot of success. So, that’s why if there’s a case where my client has a good defense, I’m going to go to the jury instructions and this particular jury instruction is a Cal Prim jury instructions – that’s what the judicial council has instructed all the judges to use throughout LA County and it’s Section 840, and it’s entitled Inflicting Injury on Spouse, Cohabitant, a Fellow Parent Resulting in Traumatic Condition, the California Penal Code Section is 273.5(a) and if they can’t prove that, then they’re going to have to dismiss the case. If they don’t prove it in front of a jury, then the jury will find the defendant not guilty of any crime.

Contact a Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

So, if you have a case and you think you have a close one and can win it, then what we’re going to do is get the jury instructions out – because that’s what the judge is going to do. The judge is going to instruct the jury on those jury instructions and that’s what the jury is going to take back with them when they go back to decide whether someone’s guilty or not guilty. That’s where the Hedding Law Firm comes in. That’s why you and I are going to go over those injury instructions and we’re going to see if they can prove each and every element. If they can, then we’re going to work out a plea agreement. If they can’t then we’re going to figure out our defense. We’re going to fight the case. We’re going to put on witnesses. We’re going to put on evidence. We’re going to attack the prosecution’s evidence because you have a presumption of innocence. That’s one of the jury instructions they’re going to get too. You’re presumed innocent before the case starts and if they can’t show different in a domestic violence or spousal abuse situation, then you should be found not guilty. Contact us to review your case.

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