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Impact of a Great Bodily Injury Allegation on a Criminal Case in California

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Feb 28, 2019

There's a lot of great bodily injury allegations being alleged all over Los Angeles county.  These GBI allegations have a lot more teeth than they used to.  Now, if you get hit with a great bodily injury allegation it's a strike.  It makes the crime that it attaches to, to a violent felony so the person has to serve 85% of that crime.

So, great bodily injury, or GBI, is not a crime in and of itself.  It's an allegation that goes along with a crime.  So, under California Penal Code Section 12022.7, it basically adds an extra three years on the back of any sentence that a person gets for a crime.  And as indicated above, it makes any crime that it attaches to, a strike.  So, if you plead to a certain crime that normally would not be a strike, and you have to admit a great bodily injury allegation, that makes the case a strike and it's a violent felony and you must serve 85% of the time in a California state prison.

Legal Defenses Against GBI Allegations

So, the great bodily injury allegations are very serious in criminal defense in Los Angeles.  You want to avoid them at all costs.  How the people prove a great bodily injury allegation is, number one, they have to show that the defendant in the case actually is the one that caused a great bodily injury and not some other force or some other person, or the individual themselves causing their own great bodily injury allegation.

So, causation is definitely an issue when it comes to GBI allegations.  The second concern you should have if you're charged with a great bodily injury allegation in Los Angeles is that three extra years in prison, because that adds extra time on it and it almost forces the underlying crime to cause you to get a prison sentence.

So, it's impossible to get a probationary sentence on the underlying crime and then get the three years for the GBI.  That forces you to go to prison.  Usually, the prosecutors are talking about prison time for the underlying crime as well.

Now, the people actually have to prove that you caused great bodily injury.  So, some simple injury pain and suffering, a sore neck, a sore back, that's not going to be great bodily injury.  They're going to need some significant, serious injury and a lot of times this becomes a bone of contention in criminal defense — whether the injury is really serious enough to qualify as a great bodily injury allegation.

Stay the Sentence on Great Bodily Injury

Another huge issue when it comes to GBI allegations in Los Angeles criminal courts is, how are we going to resolve the case?  What are we going to do?  Sometimes we can get the prosecutors to have you admit the great bodily injury allegation, but not give you the three years on it.  So, in other words, they stay the sentence on the great bodily injury.

Obviously, this is a very powerful remedy if you can get it done because then you don't have to serve the three years prison, and then a lot of times you can get probation on the underlying case.  So, if you can get them to do this, then you're in a very solid position.

The only problem with this — if you admit a GBI allegation, even though you don't actually get hit with the three years, that causes the charge itself to become a strike, and when you have that strike on your record, you can't get that strike off.  You cannot reduce the case down to a misdemeanor.

So, that's one downside of having to admit a great bodily injury allegation.  So, a lot of times what I'm trying to do is get them to strike the great bodily injury allegation or get rid of it so my client doesn't actually have to admit it, take any more time for it, or get that bad energy related to it because of the strike allegation pursuant to the three strikes law in California.

So, if you or a loved one is charged with a crime that has a great bodily injury allegation, talk to an expert.  Talk to somebody like me who has been doing this twenty-five years, seen the evolution of great bodily injury charges, what's going on in today's modern criminal defense world and what we can do to defend these charges and get you the best possible result.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.