When an individual commits a felony, the sentence can range from one year to a lifetime in prison, depending on the offense, the circumstances of the alleged criminal act, the perpetrator’s criminal history, and the damage caused. When a person commits a felony and, in the process of that felony, causes Great Bodily Injury (GBI) to a victim, the sentence for that offense can be “enhanced” or increased.
A Los Angeles DUI lawyer will help you avoid those extra years behind bars and ensure your fair treatment by the California criminal justice system.
Great Bodily Injury Is a Sentencing Enhancement
GBI is a sentencing enhancement applicable to certain felony crimes. It does not apply to misdemeanor offenses. It is also not applicable if the injured party is an accomplice in the felony’s commission.
When a perpetrator commits an underlying felony and causes an injury more severe than would have typically resulted from the crime, the enhancement gives the judge or jury the option to add prison time to the perpetrator’s sentence.
The GBI enhancement can add three to six years in state prison to the original sentence. These additional years must be served consecutively, and the defendant must serve the enhancement immediately after completing the sentence for the underlying felony offense. Factors determining the length of the enhancement sentence include:
- The Victim’s Age: The sentence is five years for victims 70 years of age or older. For victims under five years of age, the sentence can be four, five, or six years.
- The Severity of the Injury: If victims are rendered unconscious or paralyzed, the sentence is three years.
- A Domestic Violence Classification: If victims are injured during a crime of domestic violence, the sentence is three, four, or five years.
Speak with a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles, CA, today about your situation. A great bodily injury enhancement can make your case difficult to traverse. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can make a world of difference. Call today to schedule an appointment.
Determining What Counts as a Great Bodily Injury
PC 12022.7(f) defines “great bodily injury” as “a significant or substantial physical injury.” Emotional wounds or financial injuries do not fall under the GBI classification, nor do minor or moderate physical injuries or pregnancies caused by a rape.
Injuries do not have to be permanent to count as GBI. However, the defendant must be the party responsible for inflicting the injury.
Determining whether an injury should be classified as “great” is up to the judge and jury involved in the case. These parties are most likely to consider the severity of the injury, the physical pain caused to the victim, and whether the injury demanded immediate medical intervention. Injuries that often prompt a GBI enhancement include:
- Dog Bites
- Broken bones
- Blistering and Serious Burns
- Those with swelling, discoloration, and bruising
- Serious abrasions
- Gunshot wounds
- Vaginal trauma
- Brain trauma
- Loss of motor function
Crimes Allowing for the Great Bodily Injury Enhancement
The GBI enhancement does not apply to all felonies. For example, the enhancement is not an option for arson, murder, and manslaughter.
Felonies for which the enhancement can apply include:
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Child Abuse
- Elder Abuse
- Domestic Violence
- Sex crimes (with exceptions)
A Los Angeles DUI lawyer has experience defending clients with all of the above felonies. You do not have to be facing DUI charges in order to speak with a DUI attorney in Los Angeles, CA, about the charges levied against you. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with a criminal defense attorney.
Examples of GBI Enhancement Applications
Examples of GBI Enhancement Applications include:
- Domestic Violence: During a domestic violence dispute, the victim suffered a serious concussion, strangulation, a swollen, blackened eye, or other injury requiring medical attention. In these cases, the enhancement will probably apply.
- Elder Abuse: A nursing home attendant restrains patients using painfully tight devices. The restraints cause severe pain to the elder and produce significant bruising and lacerations.
The Difference Between “Great Bodily Injury” and “Serious Bodily Injury” in California Law
There is a lower standard for serious bodily injury classification than for a GBI. A serious bodily injury causes a physical impairment but does not always warrant medical attention. GBIs are more extreme, and serious bodily injuries are more moderate, such as mild concussions or brief losses of consciousness.
GBI enhancements apply to certain felony cases. Serious injury determinations apply to cases involving criminal battery. If the perpetrator caused serious injury to another person while committing the crime of battery, the defendant could be charged with aggravated battery.
Since serious bodily injury and GBI determinations are left to judges and juries, these parties could decide the serious injury rises to the level of GBI, prompting a sentencing enhancement. Talk to a Los Angeles DUI attorney about your charges before speaking to anyone about the alleged crime. Have legal representation secured before talking to detectives or other investigators about what did or did not happen.
Why You Need a Lawyer
When facing any criminal charge, securing legal representation from a criminal defense attorney is vital. If you have prior felony convictions, representation is even more crucial.
Under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law, defendants in felony cases receive far more serious sentences if they have prior convictions for serious or violent felonies. One prior conviction can add five years or more to a second-offense conviction. Two prior convictions can yield a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, and GBI felony offenses count as strikes.
To protect yourself against potentially lifelong consequences, you must have a skilled Los Angeles DUI lawyer. Your lawyer will protect your rights, provide a vigorous criminal defense, and work to have your charges reduced. Talk to a DUI attorney in Los Angeles, CA, today about your case so a strong defense can be built to the charges.
How to Defend Against Great Bodily Injury Enhancements
After reviewing your case, your lawyer will determine the best approach to defending against the GBI enhancement. Though every case is unique, your lawyer may issue one or more of the following arguments:
- The victim’s injury was minor or moderate and is neither substantial nor significant enough to meet the threshold for “great.”
- You did not inflict the victim’s injury.
- You were not committing, or attempting to commit, a felony offense.
- The GBI enhancement does not apply to the felony charges you face.
- You were acting in self-defense.
A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Make All the Difference
Felony charges are serious, especially those with the potential for a GBI enhancement. You can lose years of your life, finances, and relationships to prison sentences. Protect those years, your financial stability, and your time with loved ones through the expertise of a Los Angeles DUI lawyer.
We encourage you to reach out through our contact page and schedule your free consultation with a criminal defense attorney committed to your defense. A Los Angeles DUI attorney can answer all of your questions, collect evidence, speak to witnesses, and build a defense to the charges on your behalf.