These two particular allegations carry with them prison time most of the time. So, obviously you want to know the difference. They are allegations; they’re not crimes themselves, so they have to be attached to a crime.
Driving Under the Influence Causing Injury
For example, let’s say somebody’s driving intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or a combination of both. They get into an accident and hurt somebody else. Depending on how bad the injury is, that person could be charged with a felony DUI which would be the serious bodily injury and there could also be a great bodily injury enhancements which adds three years on the back of any sentence that you get for that felony DUI. This “GBI” enhancement is covered under California Penal Code 12022.7.
It’s not limited to DUI’s these bodily injury allegations. It also has to do with batteries. You could cause serious injury to somebody. It has to do with all sorts of different crimes. The issue becomes, somebody does something intentionally and they injury another party.
Then the question becomes, how bad is the injury? Obviously, the worse the injury, the more likely you’re going to be charged with great bodily injury or a serious bodily injury which could elevate a normal misdemeanor case up to a felony case.
Great Bodily Injury Adds Three Years to a Sentence
Really, how they came up with great bodily injury and serious bodily injury has to do with victims of crime being taken care of and punishing those individuals who hurt other people.
So, that’s where the great bodily injury allegation came in. The problem with this great bodily injury allegation is that not only does it tack three years on the back of a sentence which is bad enough, it also makes any crime a strike in California.
So, if you had a case that would normally be a misdemeanor or a felony and it gets elevated up to a felony because of the great bodily injury allegation, or even a serious injury allegation, and you have to admit that you personally inflicted great bodily injury against another person, that admission will cause the crime that you plead guilty or no-contest to, to become a strike, and that means you can’t get it off your record. You can’t reduce it to a misdemeanor and you’re going to serve 85% of any custody time that you get ordered to do.
So, that’s why knowing what great bodily injury is and knowing what serious bodily injury is very important, and unfortunately it’s very nebulous as well. In other words, the distinction between the two is a very fine line.
A lot of times it’s subjective; sometimes it’s just very clear. For example, if you’re driving a car drunk, you hit somebody and you break a bone in their body – break their leg for example or break their collar bone, you could get charged with a felony DUI, and that’s where the serious bodily injury comes in and you could also get a great bodily injury because any broken bone is typically enough to get the great bodily injury allegation.
Great Bodily Injury Case Example
One important distinction between a serious injury and great bodily injury is in order to be hit with that great bodily injury allegation, you actually have to personally inflict great bodily injury against somebody. I’ll give you an example.
I had a case recently where my client was charged with a felony DUI and they also put a great bodily injury on the back of it. Now, the prosecutors basically realize that my client was not the one who caused the great bodily injury, as far as personally hitting this other car.
It was client that blocked the freeway which caused another car to hit the victim, so he could be charged with serious bodily injury because that does not cause somebody to personally inflict the injury. You just have to be the cause of the injury.
Whereas, he could not be charged with great bodily injury because he’s not the one that hit the other car, even though it could be argued, he’s the one that set the circumstances that caused the other car to be hit.
So, some of this stuff as you can see can become very complicated. I’ve had cases where my client is guilty of causing great body injury but were able to get that three years prison suspended and not imposed against the person.
But, if they still admit the great body injury allegation, that makes that crime a strike. So, on the one hand you don’t have to do the three years, but on the other hand, you still have a strike on your record. So, obviously it’s a much better circumstance if you could just get it struck altogether, but that takes work, that takes skill and that takes experience.
So, if you have a serious bodily injury allegation or a great bodily injury allegation in any of the courts in the San Fernando Valley, pick up the phone and call us to review the details.
Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
Categorised in: Criminal Defense