The Great Bodily Injury Enhancement in Domestic Violence Cases
The district attorney is permitted to charge as a sentencing enhancement an allegation that the defendant caused Great Bodily Injury (“GBI”) to the alleged victim. The GBI enhancement may be alleged in conjunction with virtually every felony which the Legislature did not specifically exempt the enhancement from applying to. The significance of a district attorney including a GBI allegation in a felony complaint or indictment is the fact that the enhancement adds an additional consecutive term in prison time to the underlying offense.
Moreover, the district attorney is fond of alleging the GBI allegation because it can be used as a position of strength in pre-trial negotiations to strong-arm the defendant into pleading guilty or nolo contendre in exchange for the district attorney’s agreement to withdraw the GBI allegation. If the district attorney will not forego the GBI allegation, the defendant’s only option to avoid the mandatory consecutive prison term (if the allegation is found true by the judge or jury) is to ask the court to strike the GBI allegation or its sentence under Penal Code § 1385.
If the judge or jury finds that the GBI allegation is true, the defendant’s conviction will be considered a “strike” for purposes of Penal Code § 667.5(c)(8). When sentenced to state prison, the defendant will not be eligible for half-time credits due to the felony “strike” conviction.
What is GBI
GBI is technically defined under Penal Code § 12022.7 (f) as a significant or substantial physical injury. Following the conclusion of evidence in a jury trial, the jury is instructed that GBI is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm. GBI is not a technical term and whether GBI has been inflicted is a question of fact for the judge or jury to decide. However, case law has made clear that even extensive bruising can be considered GBI.
GBI in a Domestic Violence Case
A felony domestic violence conviction is punishable by up to 4 years in state prison. The GBI enhancement in a felony domestic violence carries an additional and consecutive term of 3, 4 or 5 years in state prison.
Aggressive Domestic Violence Defense
When you or a loved one is charged with domestic violence causing GBI, you need the knowledgeable and aggressive Redwood City, San Mateo County domestic violence defense attorneys at Ahmed & Sukaram. With offices also in Oakland, Alameda County, we defend clients from Pleasanton, Marin, San Francisco to San Jose. Contact us so that we can help you or a loved one avoid a GBI enhancement and a potential felony domestic violence conviction.
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