California’s sentencing enhancement scheme is quite complex. Prior offenses, gun use, gang affiliation, carjacking, and great bodily injury (GBI) all carry stiffer-than-normal sentences. However, enhancements for GBI are more straightforward than those for other offenses. Read on for more details.
How Great Bodily Injury is Determined
There’s no equation or hard-and-fast rule to determine GBI, which puts Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers at an advantage when arguing that victims’ injuries don’t meet the standard. However, it ultimately depends on the jury’s decision. A jury may consider multiple factors in making such a determination, such as the victim’s pain, the nature of the injury, and the required medical care.
The Three Strikes Rule
Under state law, a GBI offense counts as a strike on one’s criminal record. The three strikes rule is a sentencing plan that increases sentence length for repeat offenders convicted of violent or serious felonies.
Typically, great bodily injury must be physical, not financial or emotional. Major trauma often results in paralysis or brain damage, which are considered GBI. However, even less-severe injuries may still qualify if they are physical and they meet the jury’s and the state’s standard.
Injuries qualifying in one case may not qualify in another, as every jury will evaluate injuries differently. Therefore, great bodily injury cases are determined singly, and the below examples may not qualify in all cases.
- Broken bones
- Black eyes
- Neck pain, abrasions, and soreness after a sexual assault
- Gunshot wounds
- Dog bites
Criminal defense attorneys can provide additional information on the state’s laws on great bodily injury.
The Differences Between Great and Serious Bodily Injury
Under California’s penal code, battery including serious bodily injury is a punishable offense. This raises questions on the differences between serious and great bodily injury. A battery offense leading to serious bodily injury isn’t eligible for an enhanced sentence because the offense requires proof of injury as an element. However, because determinations are left to individual juries, it’s possible that the panel could decide that the injuries rose to the level of GBI. In practice, the two terms are used interchangeably, however.
Hiring a Lawyer
If a person is facing a GBI sentencing enhancement, now is the time to get help. Visit the website for more information or call the office today to schedule a consultation.